Port Everglades experienced a third quarter of double-digit growth in containerized cargo over the same time period last year, which officials believe is a positive sign of economic recovery in South Florida.
Container cargo throughput in TEUs, or "20-foot equivalent units," which is the cargo industry's standard container measurement, increased 10.6 percent during the third quarter of the fiscal year, April through June 2011, compared to the same period last year. For the first nine months of the Port's fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, TEUs totaled 674,675, up 12.1 percent, up from the 601,771 TEUs the previous year. While remaining lower than the number of TEUs over the same period three years ago (FY 2008) when Port Everglades reached an all-time high in container traffic, this recent increase is a positive trend that has been growing since last summer.
"Seeing three consecutive quarters of growth in the cargo sector makes us more confident that South Florida's economy is rebounding," says Port Everglades Director Phil Allen. "Nearly all container cargo lines that call on the Port have contributed to this growth."
Port Everglades is moving forward with several capital improvements to foster growth in containerized cargo at the Port. The Port's major expansion projects include adding cargo berths, widening and deepening the waterways to 50 feet, and bringing freight rail into the Port. The Florida Department of Transportation broke ground in July 2011 for construction of the Eller Drive Overpass project, which will allow trains carrying both international and domestic cargo to enter the Port at ground level to connect to a near-dock Intermodal Container Transfer Facility expected to be completed in late 2013. The Port recently completed construction of a 41-acre containerized cargo terminal, most of which has been leased to SeaFreight Agencies (USA) Inc. and Crowley Liner Services, Inc. The Port also purchased a new mobile harbor crane that has the capability to load containers and handle heavy lifts of up to 100-tons from ship to shore.
Allen also notes that the recently updated Port Everglades' 20-Year Master/Vision Plan aligns with the findings of the Florida Chamber Foundation's Florida Trade and Logistics Study. The study, released in December 2010, found that Florida stands to benefit directly from the Panama Canal expansion and growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, which ultimately will provide the potential to increase job creation and, through the development of Florida's 14 deepwater seaports, it will position the state to become a global trade and logistics hub.