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Florida DOT to fund Miami port's dredging work; USDOT to issue TIGER II grant for Maine rail rehab


Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the Florida Department of Transportation will fund a $77 million shortfall for the Port of Miami’s dredging project, which is designed to enable larger ships to enter the port.

The project — which will create more than 30,000 new jobs for Miami region in the coming years, according to Scott — calls for dredging to a depth of 50 feet to accommodate larger ships that will be traveling through the expanded Panama Canal in 2014. The project will double the port's annual output and make the Miami facility the third U.S. eastern seaport capable of serving the world’s largest container-carrying vessels, according to port officials.

The project also includes a rail element. The U.S. Department of Transportation previously awarded the Port of Miami a $22.7 million grant to restore rail service between the port and Florida East Coast Railway L.L.C.’s (FEC) Hialeah Yard. To be completed in 2013, the restoration work will provide the port direct access to the national rail system and enhance the port’s intermodal capacities.

“The state of Florida has made a statement to the global logistics industry that its ports will compete for a bigger share of the trade market,” said FEC President and Chief Executive Officer James Hertwig in a prepared statement. “As the exclusive rail provider to the Port of Miami, Florida East Coast Railway will be able to provide overnight service throughout Florida and second/third morning service throughout the Southeast U.S.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) recently announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation formally obligated a $10.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II (TIGER II) grant for the state of Maine, which will use the proceeds to fund the rehabilitation of former Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic Railway Ltd. (MMA) trackage.

In October 2010, the state of Maine reached an agreement to purchase 233 miles of track in Aroostook and Penobscot counties from MMA, which had planned to abandon the lines. The state earlier had learned it would receive the TIGER II grant to help fund track improvements.

The project will enhance freight-rail service along the lines, benefitting mills, factories and other businesses, said Snowe in a prepared statement.

“An effective rail transportation system in northern Maine is crucial for the companies and communities along the rail corridor, and the overall economic vitality and health of the entire state — as well as for the sake of all hardworking Mainers whose jobs rely on the continued viability of this rail line,” she said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/7/2011