A positive sign that international trade to South Florida continues to improve, Port Everglades officials are reporting that containerized cargo for the first six months of the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011 is up 12.9 percent over the same period last year.
Container throughput in TEUs, or “20-foot equivalent units” which is the cargo industry’s standard container measurement, totaled 448,520 TEUs for the six months ended March 31, 2011, up from 397,228 TEUs the previous year. While lower than the number of TEUs 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.
“This is a significant increase over where we were last year and we are cautiously optimistic that this is another indication that international trade is rebounding,” says Port Everglades Director Phil Allen. “Cargo operations at Port Everglades account for more than 5,300 direct jobs locally and supports nearly 132,000 jobs throughout Florida, so we are pleased with the growth in this business sector, and 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 volumes at the Port. The Port is nearing completion of a 41-acre containerized cargo terminal of which more than half will be used as a new handling facility for SeaFreight Agencies (USA) Inc. The Port also purchased a new mobile harbor crane that has the capability to load containers and handle heavy lifts up to 100-tons. The Port is also moving ahead with Master Plan projects that include lengthening the Port’s Turning Notch by 1,500 feet to allow for four additional berths, and is nearing completion of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Feasibility Study to deepen the channel to 50 feet. With the recent contract awarded by the Florida Department of Transportation for construction of the Eller Drive Overpass project, the Port continues planning for rail connecting to a near-dock Intermodal Container Transfer Facility in the Southport area. Allen also notes that Port Everglades’ 20-Year Master/Vision Plan aligns with the findings of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Trade and Logistics Study. The recently released study found that Florida stands to benefit from the Panama Canal expansion and growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, which ultimately creates the potential to increase job creation and position the state to become a global trade and logistics hub through the development of its 14 deepwater seaports.