West Coast Business Leaders Urge Capitalizing on the Panama Canal


Government, business leaders urge capitalizing on canal expansion
Oct 30, 2014, 2:47pm EDT

Wade Millward
Former Florida Senator George LeMieux listens to the business panel at a global trade symposium Thursday. LeMieux, now with the Gunster law firm, gave the event’s final presentation on the importance of global trade.

Wade Millward
Tampa Bay Business Journal
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With more investment, Florida can lead the Western Hemisphere in global trade, speakers preached to audience members at a Thursday symposium.
Two panels, one of government officials and a later one of trade and transport executives, highlighted conditions the state can use to capitalize on the finished $5.2 billion Panama Canal expansion next year.
They touted expansion projects also happening in the state to ease transportation congestion and provide a skilled workforce.
Tampa Bay Business Journal and Bank of America Merrill Lynch hosted the Tampa Bay Global Trade and Transportation Symposium at Port Tampa Bay.
Speakers from both panels demanded audience members request more spending from the Legislature to increase the state’s reputation as an international hub and surpass states such as California and New York.
“Somebody’s going to win this race,” moderator Tony Carvajal, who is Florida Chamber Foundation’s executive vice president, said at the panel’s close. “We’ve got to do this now.”
The port is adding 25 acres and expanding to seven total docking cruise lines in time for cruise season starting Sunday, CEO Paul Anderson said. It’s in negotiations with manufacturers, including a handful from Latin America, to open in Tampa Bay.
Tampa International Airport will finish an expansion by 2017 and is negotiating direct flights from Europe to encourage tourism and foreign companies to open local regional offices, CEO Joe Lopano said.
The Florida Department of Transportation is widening Interstate 75 from the Georgia border to Alligator Alley to six lanes, assistant secretary Rich Biter said.
Hillsborough County will open a small business center for entrepreneurs in two weeks, County Commissioner Sandra Murman said.
“We will be the place where everybody wants to be,” the commissioner said.
During the business panel, Bob O’Malley, CSX resident vice president of state government and community affairs, said CSX will hire a few thousand workers for upcoming projects and to replace retiring employees.
CSX opened a distribution center in Winter Haven to act as statewide hub and broke ground on a 400,000-square-foot nearby space for retailers, O’Malley said.
The lesson from the symposium should be the necessity of government creating business opportunities while companies deliver more trade, said panel moderator and Florida Chamber of Commerce global outreach director Alice Ancona.
One recent success: Tampa International Airport recruiting Copa Airlines, which offers flights between Tampa and Panama City, Panama.
“The partnership I’ve seen here is how we can together grow international trade,” said Fernando Fondevila, Copa Airlines regional commercial manager for North America.
Wade Millward is a reporter for the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Back to the future: the Chesapeake and Delaware River Canal

Completed in 1829 during the first great Canal Era when arguments over Constitutional restraints kept Congress from using Federal taxpayer money to fund inland waterway construction, a private company completed the 17-mile waterway between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.

The original waterway was a tollway ten feet deep and sixty-six feet wide, with a boat channel thirty-six feet wide. It had four locks, each 110 feet long and 22 feet wide, later enlarged to 220 feet long and 24 feet wide.  The canal system later gave way to the faster and more economical railway by the time of the Civil War.

Today, the Canal has 5 fixed bridges and one lift bridge.  The four locks have been removed. The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal serves as an important inland link in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Boston to Miami.

To see a short film of a boat transiting the Canal, Tap on this:

Corthell’s 1889 Estimate of the Cost to Complete the Florida East Coast Canal


In 1888, Florida canal company general manager George F. Miles engaged acclaimed Chicago waterway and railway engineer Elmer Corthell to survey the soil, rock, sand, and other material the Company dredges would likely encounter in completing the waterway and to estimate the cost of completion.

In turn, Corthell employed a former Army engineer, Artur [sic] Wrotnowski, to perform the actual on-the-ground measurements between bodies of water, their depths, and distances, with calculations of how much material the Florida canal company would have to move to comply with state requirements. Corthell reviewed Wrotnowski’s survey in detail and reported to the directors of the Florida canal company the amount of material to be moved and the cost to complete the waterway.

Corthell also considered mounting marine vessels on railway cars to transit difficult-to-dredge dry land between waterways but rejected the railway alternative as too expensive to maintain. In conclusion, Corthell endorsed the project on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, starting with minimum depths now, using the waterway to generate revenue to dredge a deeper and wider waterway later.  Withal, Corthell thought the Florida East Coast economy robust, more than enough to justify his estimated cost to complete of a little over $1 million in  1889 ($26 million in historic standard-of-living dollars today, 2014). Courtesy, Brown University, Hay Library, Providence, Rhode Island.

Double-tracking Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway, ca. 1928

Double-tracking Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway, ca. 1928

The completion and operation of the Flagler railway and other railways throughout Florida spelled the death knell for the Florida East Coast Canal and other inland waterways. At first, it was thought that inland waterways would serve as ‘rate-regulators’, competitors against a monopolistic railway system. As the railway system became more reliable and economical, many inland waterways simply could not compete against faster, more competitive railways in the delivery of most goods, especially perishables. The development of the Interstate Highway system beginning in the 1950s and the use of refrigerated trucking in tandem with containerized shipping soon overtook the competitive advantage of railways in the delivery of many categories of freight. At the same time, the development of the airplane and commercial jet aircraft took away much of the passenger traffic formerly transported by the railway. Courtesy, the author.