Past, Present and Future Growth
What do petroleum, citrus fruit and newsprint all have in common? Answer: Each flows through Port Canaveral on its way to and from major Florida markets. The Port handled 3,874,266 short tons of cargo transported through in fiscal year 2013. With 75 percent of consumer goods traveling via water, Port Canaveral is positioned for explosive growth in the coming months and years.
A History of Opportunity and Success
At its start, Port Canaveral’s purpose was to serve its community as a resource for economic opportunities and success. Today, it remains the same while being one of the strongest economic engines in Brevard County.
Cargo vessels began arriving within a few years after its dedication in 1953, and by 1966, the cargo tonnage reached one million tons per year. When the space industry boomed, the Port played an important role in receiving, tracking and retrieving space vehicles and components. From its infancy to today, numerous changes have created its success, and there’s still room for more.
Gaining New Business
Port Canaveral continues to be a critical link for the space industry and a booming hub for transporting goods around the region. Currently, it’s conducting a full-scale campaign for new cargo business, including exploration of new forms of cargo transport, a container terminal and independent distribution centers, bringing new income opportunities for local businesses.
“Our port has a unique geography in that it’s a modern port, versus an old 1800s port,” said Port Canaveral CEO John Walsh. Compared to Ports like Savannah or Jacksonville, “It’s put right out on the edge of the ocean, which means essentially that it is 45 minutes from buoy to dock.”
Recent work has also been done on the north cargo berths, including retaining walls and approach slabs along with a rail system for two movable cranes that are being installed. Rockledge-based W & J Construction is doing upland improvements on North Cargo Berth 5 which includes construction of 2.4 acres of asphalt pavement with trench drains, drainage pipes and structures, a wet detention pond, potable water main and services, fire hydrants and other earthwork activities.
In order to extend its reach and competitiveness, Port Canaveral is looking to create rail connections between the Port cargo docks and the Florida East Coast Railway, the 351-mile system that connects the east coast of Florida.
The tracks would cross over neighboring land owned by federal agencies, and the Port currently is in discussions with NASA planners to explore these connections. Putting this connection in place could create 5,000 jobs in five to seven years, with ultimately 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs in the future.
With its central location, deep water, short direct entry on the east coast, minimal congestion and efficient transportation links, Port Canaveral is positioned to continue its growth, even beyond its borders.