By: Ismael Rodriguez

PortMiami, which added 50 feet in depth to profit from a widened Panama Canal in 2016, can now accommodate up to six Post-Panamax vessels a week, translating into increased traffic for the only major logistics hub south of Virginia.

As a result, incoming Asian cargo rose by 11 percent in 2016 alone, according to what Kevin Lynskey, assistant port director, told the press in April. The composition of the cargo also represents higher value. The cargo includes electronics, furniture and apparel, which are highly sought after in Florida.

But the growth in cargo size and profitability is mostly attributed to the $1.3 billion in capital infrastructure investments made by the city and the port, according PortMiami sources.

This infrastructure development project included the newly constructed tunnel that provides direct access between the marine terminals and the U.S. Interstate highway system, the modernized dock intermodal rail, and the acquisition of four new Gantry Cranes that can handle large cargo vessels.

“Just before the canal opened we had an uptick at the port that was mostly related to West Coast labor problems,” Lynskey told the press. “When the labor problems happened, importers took the opportunity to start sending products to the East Coast,” he added. “Then, after the new canal locks opened, importers decided to keep sending more stuff through the canal, keeping East Coast activity strong.”

In 2016, as a result of the unabated cargo activity, $36 billion of the economic output in Florida derived from the steady influx of cargo entering Miami. And Asian trade accounted for 35 percent of that cargo.

Now, according to Lynskey, the port receives about six super-post Panamax vessels a week, which means that ships that do not fit in the original Panama Canal locks, such as supertankers and modern container and passenger ships can be harbored by PortMiami.