East Coast Ports Expanding to Accommodate Wider Panama Canal

May 24, 2010

Port officials from Savannah, Ga., to Mobile, Ala., to Long Beach are moving full steam ahead to expand and modernize their ports with hopes to lure the bigger ships sailing through a widened Panama Canal, which is scheduled to open in 2014.
Gulfport, which is undergoing a $570 million expansion, the Port of Mobile is undergoing $600 million in upgrades, including a new container terminal and a turning basin for large ships. The Port of Savannah is midway through an eight-year, $500 million expansion that would nearly double its container capacity. The Port of Long Beach is spending $3 billion over the next 10 years to modernize its port.
Port directors throughout the Gulf region believe they can lure the largest, 1,200-foot-long ships sailing from Asian destinations bound for U.S. and greatly increase their revenue. Many of those ships now dock at West Coast ports.
But not all Gulf Ports are expanding, officials in New Orleans are trying to give their port a $250 million expansion but plans have been repeatedly stymied by the recession. The port has invested $33 million of its money and is looking to state funds and federal stimulus money to finish the job.
The Port of Tampa is taking a more cautious approach. A long-term expansion project underway there will continue only as the market develops, according to the Port’s Director. Source: USA Today, February 16, 2010

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