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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami River could double current cargo load

Miami River could double current cargo load

Written by on January 24, 2018
Miami River could double current cargo load

An ongoing state-led study, part of the Miami River Freight Improvement Plan, concludes the river has the capacity to handle double the cargo now on the waterway.

“There’s a lot of reserve capacity on the river,” said Jack Schnettler, vice president and senior transportation engineer with Atkins North America Inc., a consulting firm working with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on the freight study for the river.

Mr. Schnettler delivered a PowerPoint presentation on the freight improvement plan to the Miami River Commission at its January meeting.

The Miami River is now in FDOT’s Strategic Intermodal System or SIS plan, and now eligible for SIS funding, starting with $300,000 to create the Miami River Freight Improvement Plan, which will make a business case to get further SIS funding to implement the plan of improvements to the Port of Miami River.

The river commission learned this also makes the river eligible for federal improvement funds.

This is great news for river commission officials looking for ways to literally shore up river facilities to make the waterway’s marine-industrial uses more successful.

One example of a need is to rebuild a collapsed seawall on land on the upper river owned by Miami-Dade County and leased to a shipping company. The company is not getting its full use of the valuable site because of the nearly destroyed seawall and associated erosion, according to river commission officials.

The new potential stream of improvement funds could go to rebuilding that shoreline and seawall, they say.

The Port of Miami River was first included in the Southeast Florida Regional Freight Plan, part of FDOT’s Strategic Intermodal System, in 2015.

Since 2011, the state transportation department has spent more than $850 million on sea ports in Florida.

The river freight plan will develop and implement strategies to improve freight mobility and viable options to improve intermodal freight movement and potential of Short Sea Shipping along the Port of Miami River. That involves the transport of shipping containers by barge that connect with rail freight lines.

The ongoing study of the river includes:

  • Conducting agency, partner and stakeholder engagement.
  • Reviewing existing plans, data and policies.
  • Inventorying existing freight infrastructure.
  • Evaluating existing and future conditions and needs.
  • Assessing market opportunities including short sea shipping.
  • Developing proposed improvement actions.
  • Prioritizing recommended improvements.

As part of the study, the data noted 82% of bridge openings at the Brickell Bridge are for recreational vessels and only 18% are for international shipping vessels.

Currently there are 80 to 120 cargo shipping vessel movements per month on Port Miami River’s designated federal navigable channel, or 960 to 1,440 per year.

6 Responses to Miami River could double current cargo load

  1. DC Copeland

    January 24, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Here’s an idea, why not make it a law that recreational boats that require the Brickell Bridge to go up, aren’t allowed west of the bridge? That will mean less openings and smoother traffic flow. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than building a taller bridge or digging a tunnel.

    • AJC

      January 28, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      The river and boat traffic was there way before cars.
      Blame the government for not building a bridge high enough

  2. E

    January 24, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    I live between Flagler and SW 1st overlooking the Miami River and I’m astonished at the number of pleasure craft allowed to stall traffic at both bridges because they don’t have retractable masts or don’t follow guidelines on bringing their masts down. The productivity lost by traffic having to wait for one catamaran to leisurely go down the Miami river at rush hour is absurd. Stricter guidelines need to be written AND followed on when to raise a bridge and for what purpose. When I’m driving in rush hour, I’m delayed but understand why when a cargo ship needs to pass. Small price for me to pay for an operation which provides many jobs to local Miamians. But when I’ve got to wait for a single catamaran or sailboat to go through at an hour when it affects a large number of citizens on the road, it makes me feel resentful and angry that my city government is not doing its due diligence. But then again, coming from well-run cities like NYC and Charleston, SC, I’ve already been conditioned into developing low expectations from the City of Miami.

  3. Gus

    January 29, 2018 at 6:39 am

    What about the horrible water pollution in Miami River? The city should use some funds to clean it up. I live in Brickell Key overlooking the mouth of the river and it’s jaw dropping to see the black filthy water, full of oil and who knows what else, coming out of the river and into the bay every day with the tide.

  4. Gunnar

    January 29, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Enough already! If 82 percent are pleasure boaters, go to a set schedule for bridge openings. Most people have watches these days. We’ve always been led to believe that the bridge opens on demand because barges navigating the river can’t stop. Miami-Dade – fix this. We’re buying pitchforks and torches. And get rid of that woman in the booth who yells to pedestrians to get off the bridge.

  5. Raul

    January 29, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    How about a toll system?? Might help cut down in unnecessary traffic. Also, extend the curfew in the morning and afternoon by and hour. A lot of businesses don’t end their workday until 6 pm, and thanks to the bridge it has taken me 45-60 minutes to get from Brickell Key to I-95!!!