At a groundbreaking ceremony for a combined on-port international and domestic cargo rail facility at Port Everglades on Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott also committed $13 million to begin work on the Southport Turning Notch Extension project which will add more dock space at the port.
Earlier this week, Scott announced a commitment of $36 million in state funding for improving the navigation channel at the Port of Jacksonville and he called the state's port system "a driver of our economy."
Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) Chief Executive Officer Jim Hertwig said the terminal will allow his railroad "to efficiently and effectively deliver superior transportation service between South Florida and the southeastern United States. Upon completion, this new facility enables South Florida to be in a competitive position for additional freight and jobs. This facility will be able to handle the additional cargo of larger ships that are coming out of Europe today and when the Panama Canal expansion is complete and beyond.”
The terminal on Port Everglades' property "will not only ensure our seaport remains competitive with other U.S. East Coast gateways, but will give our port a cost and time-to-market advantage over many of these gateways, thereby putting more and more South Florida residents to work as a result of the additional business opportunities it will generate," said Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director Steven Cernak, in a statement. "This unique public–private partnership is consistent with Gov. Scott’s efforts to expand support to Florida’s ports, leveraging private sector capital to complete the project.”
FEC’s new 42.5-acre near-dock intermodal container transfer facility will facilitate containerized cargo transfer through the port to and from the railroad's main line by mid-2014. The port said the facility will be unique compared to similar facilities at other ports in that both domestic and international cargo will be handled at the site, which will result in the advantageous transfer for Port Everglades customers and local companies.
The railroad signed a long-term agreement with Broward County in March 2012 to build, operate and maintain the ICTF. Construction costs are estimated to be $53 million, which is funded by an $18 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and $35 million from FEC (including a $30 million State Infrastructure Bank loan from FDOT). Broward County contributed 42.5 acres of Port Everglades property, valued at $20 million, for the ICTF.
FDOT is also constructing a $40 million overpass to elevate Interstate 595/Eller Drive to allow the trains to access the port at ground level for the ICTF. Construction on the overpass began in July 2011 and will be completed in 2014. The project will elevate traffic over the rail tracks, allowing for a better traffic flow and increased port activity. - Chris Dupin