Panama Canal expansion is on schedule

Port of Tampa leaders hear Panama Canal expansion is on schedule

Tuesday, February 01 2011 @ 04:13 PM EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
Views: 46
Tampa Bay Business Journal – by Mark Holan , Staff Writer – An ambitious expansion of the Panama Canal remains on track for 2014 completion. Port of Tampa and Port Manatee officials expect to see more traffic as a result. The Panama Canal Authority’s top executive told maritime officials in Tampa Tuesday that after completion the amount of cargo moved will quadruple compared with what was moved in 2000. Larger vessels will travel more quickly through the 48-mile ship canal. “Everything so far is going in the right direction,” Alberto Aleman Zubieta said during remarks at the fourth annual Shifting International Trade Routes conference at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. “This is a game changer.” Panama is using the canal expansion to develop its own port with some dredge material being used to increase landside facilities on the Atlantic and Pacific ends of the canal. “We are the only port in the world with two oceans,” Zubieta said.
The Canal Authority is sponsoring the Retail Industry Leaders Association Logistics Conference Feb. 20-23 in Orlando. It will bring together representatives of all major retail and consumer product segments, along with service providers. Zubieta sidestepped a question about a toll increase to pay for the $5.25 billion project, saying his agency would adjust tolls to remain competitive. “Ships will move to whoever has the best service at the best cost,” he said. U.S. Maritime Administration chief David Matsuda said his agency is studying how the canal expansion will impact commerce and infrastructure requirements in America. The agency expects to release a series of reports beginning in the second quarter.

Tampa Port Director Richard Wainio expressed concern about the United States falling behind in infrastructure investment. “If we do not modernize soon we will not lead in the 21st century; we will follow,” he said. The Shifting International Trade Routes conference continues through lunchtime Wednesday with discussions about distribution and warehousing, and highway and railroad perspectives.

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