Tampa master plan may include shifts in emphasis
A preliminary version of a 20-year master plan for the Port of Tampa indicates the port will likely be putting an added emphasis on containerized cargo and will depend less on phosphate exports, one of the port's traditional mainstays.
The master plan, which will be approved in draft form in the second quarter of 2007 and finalized in the third quarter, will be used as the guideline for both near-term and long-term port planning.
The preliminary version says 'the Panama Canal will change everything' when a third set of locks are completed in 2014 or 2015. There will be a significant increase in transpacific cargoes coming by all-water routes to the East Coast, and Tampa is in a good geographic position to handle those containerized cargoes.
Phosphate exports are predicted to drop from the current level of 7 million tons a year to less the 2 million tons a year over the next 20 years, meaning phosphate exports will 'no longer be the mainstay.'
The preliminary report says there will be a 'strong outlook' for containerized cargoes. It also says good markets for construction materials such as cement, aggregates, steel and lumber. Petroleum product volumes are also expected to increase significantly, from the current 18 million tons a year to around 30 million tons a years.
To handle the expected growth, the report suggests a near-term plan to increase the capacity of the Hookers Point Container Terminal to 600,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year, with an eventual expansion to a maximum 800,000 TEUs.
Longer term, port officials should look at developing new container terminals with intermodal rail connections at Pendola Point and/or on the man-made islands 2D and 3D that were created with dredged materials.
The report also says the port should consider dredging projects that would increase water depths from the current 43-foot to 45-foot levels, to 50 feet or even 55 feet.
For petroleum products, there will be a need to add more storage tanks, but the expansions would not be as great as the need for new container terminals.