USA: Miami Lights the Way for Post-Panamax Ships

United States Southeast ports are preparing for the larger vessels that will come calling when the Panama Canal’s third lock is complete in 2015. Port Miami will be the first port of call ready to extend a warm welcome to the post-Panamax ships, with improved infrastructure that will ensure reliable and improved speed to market. Improvements include a harbor deepened to -50 feet allowing berth for the supersized ships, on-dock rail, and a tunnel linking the port directly to Florida’s Interstate Highway System, enabling quick and efficient unloading and transport of goods.

The deep dredge

Port Miami is preparing for increased cargo traffic from Asia by dredging from its current water depth of -42 feet to -50 feet. When completed in 2015, Port Miami will be one of only three U.S. Atlantic ports to be at -50 feet and the only one south of Norfolk, Va. Miami’s trade with Asia is expected to double over the next decade, especially as China’s demand for U.S. goods continues to increase. With the expanded Panama Canal, shippers will be able to move even more cargo to and from the U.S. via all-water routes to cut fuel costs and reduce emissions, and Port Miami stands ready as the logical first port of call.

However, deep water alone isn’t enough. As post-Panamax shippers plan new strategies, they will look for ports that can facilitate fast, reliable and efficient access to major markets, making the infrastructure improvements at the port just as important as the dredge.

On-dock rail

Port Miami has partnered with Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) to provide on-port intermodal rail service. The tracks will link the port to the FEC mainline, providing direct cargo access to the national rail system and the fastest access to Southeast U.S. consumer markets. FEC’s absolute lead times will match or exceed those of trucking, with greater service reliability and reduced carbon emissions.

Port tunnel

A new port tunnel will improve access to and from Port Miami, serving as a dedicated roadway connector linking port facilities with Florida’s Interstate Highway System. The tunnel is designed to reduce traffic congestion on downtown Miami streets and has recently been named as one of the world’s most innovative engineering projects.

For shippers demanding greater sustainability at ports the tunnel not only reduces road congestion, it also reduces idle time and the subsequent fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Warehousing and distribution centers

The industrial real estate area around Port Miami has recently been named a Foreign Trade Zone and one of the best places to invest in the nation. Companies can create duty-free warehouses, and foreign exporters will not be required to pay U.S. import duties as long as the goods are heading from one foreign country to another. The port is setting up satellite zones with a unique approval process that takes approximately 30 days rather than the typical 6 months.

Flagler’s South Florida Logistics Center is within the FTZ and enables companies to put warehouses, distribution centers and trans-load operations on site, where movement of containers from the rail to the facility would not have to go out onto a public highway

Further improving Port Miami’s competitiveness in the global economy, a World Trade Center complex is also in the works, which will provide an opportunity for Chinese multi-nationals to display goods for the entire market of the Americas.

Cooperative funding gets the job done

Through a combination of state, federal and private-sector funding, Port Miami is investing more than $2 billion to improve its infrastructure, and all projects are slated to be complete by 2015. While other ports around the U.S. are scrambling to prepare for the expected growth, Port Miami will be the only Southeast port ready by 2015 to serve as the first port of call for post-Panamax and Super post-Panamax ships.


Port Miami, December 19, 2012