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Broward County Approves MOU Regarding Containerized Cargo at Port Everglades

Today, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners today unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) to construct and operate an Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) on 42.5 acres of land at Port Everglades.

The ICTF in the Southport area of Port Everglades will facilitate the transfer of containerized cargo through the Port onto the FEC rail line via a connecting rail spur. The proposed ICTF is unique compared to similar facilities in other ports in that both domestic and international cargo would be handled on the site. These cargos are currently being handled on a 14-acre site on Andrews Avenue owned by the FEC. A combined near-dock facility at the Port should result in competitive transfer and shipping fees for port clients, thus increasing the Port's competitive advantage compared to other ports. Positive environmental benefits are also envisioned by the reduction of truck traffic on local roadways. By relocating from the smaller facility on Andrews Avenue, Route 84 highway congestion will also be reduced.

In addition, the project is anticipated to create 760 construction jobs and the cargo activity passing through the ICTF is expected to support 2,100 local/regional jobs in the long term.

Commissioners noted that the ICTF has been a long-standing goal for Broward County.  Business leaders from the community provided supporting comments emphasizing the project's value to creating jobs and bolstering economic growth in the region.

The MOU calls for a 30-year agreement between the FEC and Broward County with two 10-year renewal options.  Broward County will contribute the land for the project and participate in joint marketing efforts.  The total cost of the project including land value is $72.8 million, of which $18 million would be funded by the Florida Department of Transportation grants.  Now that the MOU has been approved, FEC will move forward to secure an additional $30 million State of Florida Infrastructure Bank loan.  The balance of the funding is from FEC equity.

In July 2011, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) broke ground for the Eller Drive Overpass, which is a critical first step in moving the ICTF forward by allowing for an at-grade rail connection directly into Southport. This project is fully funded by the state and is estimated to cost $42 million. FDOT's Eller Drive Overpass project will consist of a four-lane bridge overpass on the primary entrance to the Port. This overpass will allow for construction of an at-grade rail spur to Southport while facilitating unrestricted movement to and from container and cruise terminals and to I-595 and the Florida Turnpike highway systems. The project also involves the widening, realignment, and construction of service roads parallel to the Overpass.

Port Everglades is one of the nation's leading container ports and a trade gateway to Latin America and Caribbean. Port Everglades has direct access to the interstate highway system, is within two miles of the Florida East Coast Railway hub and is just one mile from the Atlantic Shipping Lanes. Ongoing capital improvements and expansion ensure that Port Everglades will have the ability to handle future growth in container traffic. A world-class cargo handling facility, Port Everglades serves as an ideal point of entry for products shipped around the world.

More information about Broward County's Port Everglades and a video illustrating the Port's 20-year Master/Vision Plan is available on the Internet at http://www.porteverglades.net/ and http://www.portevergladesmasterplan.com/.

If you wish to reach me, you may contact me at miamipandi@comcast.net or motero@houckanderson.com.

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