The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has released a study on shipping patterns and industry costs intended to help prepare for the anticipated impact of the Panama Canal expansion on U.S. ports, waterways and intermodal freight systems. The expansion of the Panama Canal, scheduled for completion in 2015, will give much larger vessels, called "Post Panamax" vessels, greater access to the U.S. ports on the East and Gulf coasts.
"America's ports keep our economy moving," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This study can serve as a compass to guide our port investments in the Post Panamax world so our nation's ports can accommodate larger vessels and help maintain our global competiveness."
No real surprise here, but the Panama Canal Expansion Study finds that the integration of Post-Panamax vessels into U.S. trade lanes will have substantial implications for the nation's shippers, ports and surface freight corridors, particularly along the East Coast, Gulf Coast and inland states located east of the Mississippi River. The cost-effective service generated by the larger vessels could improve the ability of some U.S. exports, like grain, coal, petroleum products and liquefied natural gas, to compete in global markets, although the report also points pout that shifts in shipping patterns impacting the national transportation system will occur slowly and over time.
"Preparation is the key, and we're already seeing it," said Acting Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen. "Increased cargo means expanded capacity, and forward-looking ports are deepening their harbors and improving their intermodal connections, often with the help of the Obama Administration's programs, such as the competitive TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant program."
To date, the Administration has expedited seven infrastructure projects to help modernize and expand five major U.S. ports, including the Port of Jacksonville, the Port of Miami, the Port of Savannah, the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Port of Charleston. To read the entire Panama Canal Expansion Study, click HERE.