Some question the advantages of dredging
The much-ballyhooed expansions of Florida seaports might not bring the bonanza their promoters are promising, some trade experts say.
Ports in Florida and along the East Coast are racing to dredge their harbors deeply enough to attract super-sized ships expected to pass through a widened Panama Canal. The dredging projects, most at taxpayer expense, are expected to set off a wave of jobs and economic benefits that will ripple across Florida, home to 15 deepwater seaports.
But some economists predict that at least a few ports are bound to bring disappointment and may not generate enough payoff to justify the investment. They say sending electronics and some other goods across the country by rail or truck will get them to consumers faster than shipping them through the Panama Canal.
The outcome of a competition for shipping will be especially significant at Port Everglades, which has been eager to expand for 17 years, and to a lesser degree at the Port of Palm Beach, which expects to get a spillover of increased traffic to Florida ports. Port Canaveral, already benefiting from expanded cruise line service, hopes to become a bigger economic hub to help Central Florida recover from the loss of jobs along the Space Coast.
All three are planning to dredge deeper with help from Uncle Sam, though hurdles remain at the South Florida ports.