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Port Tampa Bay Would Get $9M Under Federal Spending Plan

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Port Tampa Bay

Port Tampa Bay and two other Florida sea ports moved closer to advancing projects to make harbors deeper, following the release of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spending plan last week.

The plan for spending of discretionary funds approved by Congress, released Wednesday, would provide $9 million to Port Tampa Bay, $17.5 million to JaxPort and $2.8 million for Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

“Since 2011, we have invested over $1 billion in state funding in our 15 world-class seaports and we appreciate the Trump Administration understanding the important role our ports have in supporting our economy and creating jobs,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a press release.

Port Tampa Bay wants to deepen the Big Bend Channel from 34 feet to 43 feet, a project estimated to cost $55 million.

U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Ted Yoho, both Florida Republicans, said dredging the Jacksonville harbor from 40 feet to 47 feet, will allow JaxPort to handle larger cargo ships.

“This funding is a great start to the needed dredging at JaxPort, which will allow economic growth and trade to prosper in Northeast Florida,” Rutherford said in a statement.

The project, considered by port operators essential for handling cargo ships now traveling through the Suez Canal and the expanded Panama Canal, has an overall price tag of $684 million.

“The completion of this project will create 15,000 US jobs, have a $24 dollar return for every $1 invested, and will improve the shipping industry of Florida,” Yoho said in a press release.

Port Everglades officials want to deepen its main navigational channels to 50 feet, a project estimated to cost $389 million.

The announcement of the ports funding followed Tuesday's release of President Donald Trump's proposed budget, which drew a warning from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla, regarding transportation cuts.

Nelson said Trump's fiscal plan, which requires Congressional approval, would put the brakes on Amtrak passenger train service across Florida. “Eliminating Amtrak service in Florida not only affects the nearly one million Floridians who ride the train each year, it would have a real impact on our tourism-driven economy by making it harder for folks to come visit our state,” Nelson said in a release.

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