Editorial : January-February-2014
It’s hard to believe this January/February 2014 issue is already here. Perhaps you already knew that, if you’ve seen our new e-newsletter, which we launched recently. Each issue we give you a sneak preview of some of the upcoming issue’s stories, which you can read in full on our website (www.dredgemag.com). The e-newsletter is free to anyone. Just send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the newsletter, we previewed the story on the Panama Canal report MARAD. I spent quite a bit of time with the 117-page report, and I hope you find the article informative. Not all those pages dealt with topics that pertain to the dredging industry, but it’s hard to look at this report,without seeing the connections to dredging.
After the publication of the first report, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “America’s ports keep our economy moving. 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.”
The first of the two-part study considered shipping patterns and industry costs, with the doubling of capacity at the Panama Canal. For the U.S., its ports, waterways and intermodal freight systems will change. The expansion will lower ocean transportation costs because fewer ships can carry more cargo, and those heavier loads also need deeper drafts in ports and channels.
This first report, covering Phase I of the study, defined the current conditions, markets and logistical patterns associated with U.S. trade. Further studies will look more closely at infrastructure and markets at important gateway ports, which are outlined in this first summary.
Many U.S. ports are already able to handle post-Panamax ships, and some will need considerable expansion. The second report, covering Phases Two through Four, will evaluate current port and land-side infrastructure capacity and assess investment plans that ports have developed to address the expected impacts. For Phase Two, researchers will use information developed from stakeholder interviews with key ports and transportation system operators. It will assess the cost implications of using marine systems that serve U.S. inland markets with shipments made possible by the expanded Panama Canal.
Phase Three will assess the opportunity for investment funding to develop port capacity, including leveraging surface transportation funds, port and logistics system investments, and other private investment opportunities.
The second report, Phase Four, will also follow up on specific opportunities where the U.S. government can take action. It will also revisit the issues identified in the first report, in light of feedback received from stakeholders. The final phase will identify a range of investment considerations and specific and actionable policy recommendations for consideration by USDOT and MARAD.
Like I said, it’s hard to look too far without seeing the effects of the Panama Canal expansion, including in this issue. Many of our articles show that ports all over are considering their capacity for post-Panamax ships already. You can read about Charleston Harbor on page six, which is deepening its port. Post-Panamax ships can call to the Port of Charleston today, but only under restricted conditions.
In South America, Ecuador is trying to shake its distriction of being the only nation on the Pacific coast of the continent without a port that can accommodate post-Panamax ships, but its efforts to deepen are moving slowly (see page 22).
We’ve also got pages full of on-going project reports and new dredges, and information on new products and equipment and company happenings. Thanks for reading!