Florida last week took the first step towards making a $50 million allocation to seaports for fiscal year 2014/15.
Under Florida law, each year the state must fund a minimum of $15 million for smaller capacity projects and $35 million for strategic port investments from two state funding sources.
The Florida Department of Transportation presented the projects for review and the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council on Oct. 2 approved those amounts and how to divide them. The money will become part of FDOT's work program in the upcoming fiscal year after being submitted to the state legislature for approval.
Under the Strategic Port Investment Initiative, Port Everglades will receive $14.7 million, Port Canaveral will get $9.7 million for development of a container yard, and the Port of Tampa will get $10.4 million to improve a container yard. Money for the Strategic Port Investment Initiative comes from the State Transportation Trust Fund.
Port Everglades, Fernandina, Jacksonville, Key West, Manatee, Miami, Palm Beach, Panama City, Tampa and Canaveral split the smaller $15 million, with grants ranging from $275,000 to the Port of Palm Beach to add 80 electric plugs for refrigerated containers at Tropical Shipping's terminal to $2.7 million for Port Miami's big dredge project to deepen its channel.
The combined $16.5 million in grants for Port Everglades will be used to lengthen a cruise berth and extend the port's Southport Turning Notch to allow for more cargo berths. The deep-water turning area for cargo ships will be extended from 900 to 2,400 feet, which will allow for up to five new cargo berths, according to the Everglades port authority.
Projects are selected based on Florida's economic development goals, which currently place great emphasis on international trade and an integrated intermodal freight system.
In late September, Gov. Rick Scott gave final approval for the 2013/14 port grants.
FDOT in August awarded $5 million worth of grants to four intermodal logistics projects.