(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- In an effort to keep the Port of Miami competitive for the cargo and tourism industries, Commissioner Rebeca Sosa proposed a resolution opposing the imposition of tolls to access the Port of Miami. The legislation directs the Mayor or Mayor's designee to bring to the Board of County Commissioners an alternative funding plan for the Port of Miami Tunnel that does not include tolls within 120 days of the effective date of the resolution. The Board of County Commissioners passed the resolution during the November 3, 2011 meeting.
Currently, no tolls are required to access the Port of Miami, located in Downtown Miami. However, with the Port Tunnel slated to be complete in 2014 to allow more convenient vehicle access to the area, Commissioner Sosa fears a toll could deter tourists and businesses from using Miami's port.
"Imposing tolls at the Port of Miami would place the port at a competitive disadvantage to other ports. This would be detrimental to retaining current cruise and cargo business at the Port of Miami, and could discourage new cargo and cruise line business from locating at the port," stated Commissioner Sosa. "Keeping the Port of Miami free from tolls would best position the Port of Miami to be competitive with other seaports and foster economic development and jobs for our local economy."
The Port of Miami is Miami-Dade County's second largest economic engine behind Miami International Airport, and is a vital contributor to the local, state and national economies. During fiscal year 2010, more than 4.1 million passengers traveled through the port, along with over 7.3 million tons and 847,249 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of cargo. Commercial trade and cruise business at the Port of Miami supports approximately 180,000 jobs and has an economic impact in the region of approximately $18 billion. According to the Seaport Department, the port already has committed to providing $43.5 million in funding for the Tunnel Project, and may be required to budget as much as $143.5 million depending on the use of contingency reserves for the construction.