Marketing and Public Relations Manager
PALMETTO, Fla. – Port Manatee and its stakeholders look to benefit from full federal funding of a feasibility study related to deepening of its channel and harbor area.
Manatee Harbor, near the Gulf of Mexico entrance to Tampa Bay, is one of only 10 waterways in the continental United States identified for such U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding in the fiscal 2016 civil works budget announced Monday (Feb. 2) by President Obama.
“Port Manatee is deeply appreciative of this funding, which represents a milestone in our efforts to reach our target harbor depth of 45 feet, which will allow us to accommodate the majority of vessels transiting the expanded Panama Canal,” said Carlos Buqueras, executive director of Port Manatee, the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the canal, where a new, larger traffic lane is slated for opening in early 2016.
Manatee Harbor, which currently has a depth of 40 feet, is targeted to receive $700,000 in feasibility study funding in the federal budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2015, covering the complete expense of the study. In addition, the budget includes $300,000 for maintenance and $100,000 for operation of Manatee Harbor.
“We are thrilled at the prospects of being able to serve larger ships for generations to come,” Buqueras said. “The fact that the Manatee Harbor study was one of just a few to be funded is indicative of the federal government’s recognition of the importance of our port and those we serve.”
U.S. Assistance Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, commented, “The 2016 civil works budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reflects the administration’s priorities to support and improve the nation’s economy, protect the American people and restore our environment.”
Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee serves bulk, breakbulk, container, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without the benefit of ad-valorem taxes.