Port Of Tampa Expands, Prepares For More Panama Canal Traffic

When the expected cargo blitz surges through the expanded Panama Canal in 2014, the Port of Tampa plans to be ready.

The Tampa Port Authority has finished its latest phase of a long-term expansion that will eventually accommodate more than 1 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, a measure used for capacity in container transportation) per year.

"We are very pleased to work with our partners Ports America, the Executive Shippers Council and our container carriers to ensure Tampa is well-positioned to serve the anticipated growth in Central Florida's overseas trade," says Richard Wainio, Tampa's port director and CEO, in a news release. "We will continue to move forward with a business-like approach towards investment in Tampa's container facilities".

The latest phase increases paved storage space from 25 to 40 acres and adds another 2,100 feet of berth length. The terminal also added four cranes along its 43-foot-deep water channel to accommodate more container traffic through the port.

More than 150 key exporting firms in the region should benefit from the Port's additional container space, because it may save them time and money traveling to more distant ports.

In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation is building a ramp and connector leading from the port to ultimately connect with both Interstate 4 and Interstate 75 for faster access to commercial hubs in Orlando and Atlanta. The Interstate 4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando is the 10th-largest economy in the country, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $272 billion.

"The roadway will link Interstate 4 with the Selmon Expressway just west of 31st Street in Tampa," says John McShaffrey, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation. "It will be east of downtown on the east side of the port and will link the Selmon with I-4 to significantly improve the movement of people and goods."

McShaffrey says the new roadway will have exclusive truck lanes to keep Ybor City traffic congestion to a minimum.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Sources: Richard Wainio, Port of Tampa; John McShaffrey, Florida Department of Transportation

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