The federal government also has expedited review of a proposed $30 million intermodal facility that would move containers off the port by rail
“Jacksonville is a very good port for competing with Savannah,’’ said Rodolfo Sabonge, a marketing executive for the Panama Canal Authority.
The port is taking aim on Asian and European cargo that arrives in the ports of Savannah and Charleston, then hits nearby distribution centers and is trucked to central Florida. A coup for the port came in June when Disney announced it was shipping 75 percent of the imports for its Orlando theme parks through Jacksonville.
“Central Florida is up for grabs. It will go to whoever can offer the best solution,’’ Alfonso said. “Savannah knows we’re coming.’’
Tampa — The port, whose two big exports are phosphate and fertilizers, hopes to attract ships interested in an all-water route from Asia but it doesn’t have plans to deepen its channels for the largest ships that will cross the Panama Canal. In its annual report, the port says it can still handle 80 percent of all vessels in the world.
“Most of the container ships passing through the Panama Canal post-expansion are expected to be of a size our port can accommodate,’’ the port said. And if there’s a rapid shift to larger vessels, Tampa can still be served by trans-shipment from deepwater ports in the Caribbean that send smaller vessels to Tampa and other Gulf ports, the annual report said.
Charleston — The South Carolina General Assembly has voted to fund the entire estimated construction cost of $300 million for Charleston’s harbor deepening project, Charleston Harbor Post 45, if federal funds aren’t available.
As part of its “We Can’t Wait” initiative, the Obama administration has set a target date of September 2015 for completing all federal permit and review decisions for the project to deepen the Charleston Harbor from its current 45 feet to approximately 50 feet. Generally, such an Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study averages around 10 years.
Port officials say the expedited schedule means their project could be completed by 2019 — five years earlier than originally announced.
Charleston wants to become the premier deep-water port in the South Atlantic, said Allison Skipper, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Ports Authority.
And she points out that with Savannah planning to dredge to 47 feet, the rival port “will have less capacity than we’re considering here.’’