Known as the “Perishables Gateway to the World,” PortMiami is the closest U.S. port to both Latin America and the Caribbean—which results in shorter shipping times and extended shelf life for PortMiami’s two largest trade partners. Among the Port’s top imports in 2013 were fruits and nuts (191,725 tons) and vegetables (125,946 tons).
Since 2009, the Port’s cargo traffic has increased by more than 13 percent. This growth is expected to continue with some major port infrastructure improvements, including the Deep Dredge (set for completion in early 2015) and the Intermodal/Freight Rail Restoration. PortMiami’s goal is to double its cargo throughput before the end of the decade.
For the intermodal project, PortMiami, the Florida East Coast Railway, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the state invested $50 million to connect the Port with the improved Hialeah intermodal rail yard and the national rail system. This will offer customers more reliable port-to-door service with lead times that match those of trucking—but at a lower cost and with greatly reduced carbon emissions.
PortMiami’s Deep Dredge project will increase the Port’s existing channel depth from 42 to as much as 52 feet in preparation for the Panama Canal Expansion, scheduled for completion in 2016. The Deep Dredge will make PortMiami the only U.S. port south of Norfolk, VA that can accommodate the new, mega cargo vessels that will pass through the expanded Panama Canal.
The Tunnel is yet another improvement at the Port. After a decade in the making, the PortMiami Tunnel officially opened on August 3, 2014, successfully removing thousands of vehicles from Miami’s downtown streets each day.
The Tunnel links port facilities with the state’s interstate highway network, providing cargo and noncargo traffic with a direct toll-free route without a single traffic signal.
“The Port Tunnel project is the culmination of an effort that took many years and partners to complete,” commented Juan M. Kuryla, PortMiami director, in a recent press release. “The new direct access to the interstate highway system boosts PortMiami’s competitive advantage, while eliminating traffic congestion off downtown Miami streets.”
Miami’s produce importers and exporters believe all of these port improvements will be beneficial for the industry. “The ability to receive cargo on these super ships will mean more containers into Miami,” Ramos says of the Deep Dredge project. “This will definitely contribute positively to the growth of our business.”