Response discussion: port of tampa- 1

  Erik Winters posted Jun 30, 2022 7:46 PM

As ports in Florida are prepared for the Panama Canal expansion, there is significant involvement by the private sector. Discuss the dynamics of this IGR initiative and its potential impact (benefits and challenges) from a societal perspective. Do you feel that the benefits to society (e.g., economic growth) outweigh the drawbacks in this case? Why or why not?

One of the first things I noticed looking at the materials for this topic was that they were mostly produced pre-pandemic. A quick look reassured me that traffic through the Panama Canal was still on the upswing even during the pandemic (PanaTimes, n.d.). This would suggest that some improvement to American east coast ports might be in order, but the subject is very complicated by IGR considerations, especially Federal involvement in the projects. Cournoyer (2021) points out that Federal approval is required and Federal funding is usually necessary to carry out port improvement projects. Approval can take more than a decade in some cases, and the funding often comes with additional requirements. Cournoyer also mentions that port depth isn’t the only consideration for a port to be able to handle increased shipping traffic – the docks and their equipment must also be improved. Sometimes these projects are tied into even larger rehabilitation projects, such as the Port of Tampa is considering. Even some who work on and support these projects admit that such projects are complicated and “fraught with failures” (Danielson, 2019).

Such revitalizations and port projects also rely on other transportation infrastructure projects in order to handle the increased cargo traffic. In fact, a shipping backup on the West Coast was enough to cause issues for east coast ports, revealing a lack of infrastructure to handle current traffic (Putzger, 2021). The Bayonne bridge in New Jersey needed to be raised 64 feet in order to allow larger ships access to ports. This project went two years and $400 million over budget (Cowin, 2017). PBSNewsHour (2015) outlines some additional difficulties with port expansion projects, such as environmental concerns (which generally are addressed by the US Army Corps of Engineers) and doubts about their necessity and economic return in the first place. 

This is a very complicated topic, and each port expansion has it’s own set of issues. I would think the cost/benefit analysis would also be quite different at each location as well. Some expansion seems necessary, but the specifics of what that should look like are by no means obvious. 

References

Cournoyer, C. (2021, April 17). Panama Canal expansion has U.S. ports rushing. Governing. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/panama-canal-expansion-has-ports-rushing.html

Cowin, L. (2017, December 11). NJ’s Bayonne Bridge project over budget, raising cost to $1.7B. Construction Dive. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.constructiondive.com/news/njs-bayonne-bridge-project-over-budget-raising-cost-to-17b/512646/

Danielson, R. (2019, August 25). Port Tampa Bay unveils $1.7 billion plan to develop 45 acres in Channel District. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.tampabay.com/news/business/realestate/port-tampa-bay-to-unveil-vision-for-land-in-channel-district/2241164/

PanaTimes. (n.d.). After record year Panama Canal predicts more in 2022. PanaTimes. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://panatimes.com/fbnezk-after-record-year-panama-canal-predicts-more-in-2022

PBSNewsHour. (2015, October 17). How deepening the Panama Canal set off a fierce debate in Jacksonville. YouTube. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9jsu883Okg

Putzger, I. (2021, October 4). US East Coast ports backed up as congestion spreads. gCaptain. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://gcaptain.com/us-east-coast-ports-backed-up-as-congestion-spreads/

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