Record cargo numbers prompt Port of Miami to add cranes
By Victor Cruz
Following a surge in the Port of Miami's cargo trade, the county commission will solicit proposals for two multimillion dollar gantry cranes.
When the port acquires the cranes, which are used to load and unload cargo containers, the port will operate a total of 12.
"Last year," said Charles Towsley, port director, "was a record one for handling cargo at the port, up 12 % from the previous year. And we are already up 10 % from last year in the first quarter of this year.
"That's a lot of growth when compared to other ports in Florida and the nation, many of which saw flat growth and declines."
Fiscal year 2000, from October 1, 1999, through Sept. 30, saw port revenues reach nearly $72.5 million, up $12 million from the previous year, Mr. Towsley said.
At the port, three cranes were put into service in 1984, three more in 1988, and the remaining four in 1995.
In May 1998 the port took control of the maintenance of the cranes and spent considerable funds to ensure adequate service, according to county documents.
The cranes were used extensively, but poorly maintained prior to the port taking control of them, according to the documents. The county is involved in a lawsuit with Physical Operations, the company that previously oversaw maintenance of the cranes, said Mr. Towsley who declined to comment further on the suit.
The new cranes are expected to cost about $14 million and would probably be ready in 18 to 24 months, Mr. Towsley said, in time to coordinate with a projected expansion of 960 feet of added wharf, part of an ongoing development plan. He said the cranes will be paid for with a combination of state grants and a Sunshine State Commercial loan.