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WELCOME TO THE "PORT" OF FLORIDA. REALLY?

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North Florida Writer Live

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HERE IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT HAS ILLUSIONS OF GRANDEUR.  AMONG HIS OTHER "DREAMS" IS HIS PLAN TO TURN FLORIDA INTO A MEGA-PORT FOR OCEAN SHIPPING TO AND FROM THE ORIENT.  HE THINKS THE OPENING OF THE WIDER PANAMA CANAL WILL MAKE THIS A CINCH AND WANTS TO HANDLE THE HUGE NEW CLASS OF PANAMAX SHIPS, INCLUDING POST-PANAMAX AND NEW PANAMAX AT HIS PORTS, INCLUDING JACKSONVILLE AND TAMPA.  IT IS A MAJOR COMPONENT OF HIS REASONING FOR BUILDING A NEW HIGHWAY NETWORK BETWEEN TAMPA AND JACKSONVILLE.

A NUMBER OF MAJOR PROBLEMS, HOWEVER, STAND IN HIS WAY. FOREMOST AND OF IMMEDIATE CONCERN IS THE HUGE DOWNTURN OF ASIAN OCEAN GOING SHIPMENTS. CHINA'S INDICES FOR EVALUATING OCEAN SHIPPING HIT A NEW LOW YESTERDAY, THE LOWEST IT HAS EVER BEEN SINCE CONTAINERIZED SHIPPING VOLUME MEASUREMENT WAS DEVELOPED.  AND THIS MEANS THAT THE REVENUE IS REALLY NOT THERE TO CREATE NEW PORTS OF CALL; IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN FULL CAPACITY AT EXISTING PORTS AS WELL.  AND EQUALLY IMPORTANT IS THE FACT THAT NEITHER JACKSONVILLE OR TAMPA IS CAPABLE OF PORT ENTRY BY THE HUGE NEW SHIPS.  TAMPA ADMITS IT WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO HANDLE THE REALLY BIG VESSELS AND JACKSONVILLE'S ENTRY VIA THE ST. JOHNS RIVER WILL REQUIRE MAJOR DREDGING, DREDGING FOR WHICH THERE IS NO FUNDING AVAILABLE.  OTHER PORTS HAVE PROBLEMS AS WELL AND WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT THE OVERALL PICTURE TOMORROW AT 10 A.M.

CAN FLORIDA AFFORD THE PRICE FOR AN END RESULT THAT IS LIKELY NOT EVEN REALISTIC? AND DOES THE GOVERNOR EXPECT THE TAXPAYERS TO ASSUME THE HEAVY RISK OF PROJECTS THAT ARE HIGHLY SUSPECT FROM THE OUTSET?  WE HOPE YOU'LL JOIN US WEDNESDAY MORNING ON NORTH FLORIDA WRITER LIVE.  

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