US Self-Fund Major Port Upgrades


In a bid to remain ahead of the competition and deal with decade-low funding levels, a number of US states are acting to deepen seaports before the opening of the enlarged Panama Canal, which is due to open in April, 2016, by fronting their own investments, according to The Monitor.

This follows news that US ports were fronting billions of dollars in order to widen channels and increase their infrastructure to prepare for the wave of the larger post-Panamax ships of 13-14,000 TEU.

Around four ports in Florida, Georgia and Texas are self-funding infrastructure projects, which involve the deepening of federal waterways, a total of almost half a billion dollars, rather than wait years for funds.

Watch the October update of the Panama Canal expansion

John E. Walsh, CEO of the Canaveral Port Authority in Cape Canaveral, Florida, said: “Efficiency’s the name of the game. You will either be a port that can be a stop or you’re not. There was no money available in Washington.

“The likelihood of Port Canaveral getting it — it’s sort of like when you’re the last child of six and your older brother isn’t getting a cellphone. Your chance of getting a cellphone is pretty slim.”

Jim Walker, Director of Navigation Policy and Legislation at the Virginia-based American Association of Port Authorities, said: “The federal government is just funding constrained. They’re very focused on the deficit and trying to reduce federal spending. The states just see the need to get these investments completed.”

The investment increase comes amid the pressures placed on US ports to deepen their drafts, since post-Panamax ships are wider, and require a depth of at least 13.1 metres.

Juan Kuryla, Director of PortMiami, concluded: “We’re still hopeful that we can go back to the federal government and have them reimburse the port. What is the likelihood of that? We have to wait and see.”

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