Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp toured Port Everglades with Port Director Phillip C. Allen for a first-hand glimpse of three current construction projects that are being partially funded through $24 million in state grants and support more than 1,800 new construction jobs in Broward County.

“Despite this tough economy, Port Everglades is continuing to invest in the future with new development and is creating jobs for construction workers in our community. State dollars are key to making this happen,” Allen told the Governor. As an Enterprise Fund governed by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, Port Everglades uses a competitive bid process to hire contractors for all construction projects. Broward County Public Works Department’s Seaport Engineering and Construction Division oversees development at the Port.

“Cargo of all kinds passing through Florida’s 14 deepwater ports is responsible for generating more than 550,000 direct and indirect jobs and $1.7 billion in state and local taxes. The value of international trade crossing our docks totaled more than $82.5 billion in 2008,” said Nancy Leikauf, Executive Vice President of the Florida Ports Council, who also participated in the Port Everglades tour. “In addition, the Cruise Lines International Association reports that 54% of all US cruise passengers boarded cruises from one of Florida’s cruise ports. And, the cruise industry generates 126,500 jobs and $5.2 billion in wages in Florida.  Seaports are a cornerstone of Florida’s economy.”

The first stop on the tour was Cruise Terminal 18, which Gov. Crist later described as “the future home to the largest cruise ships on the planet,” Royal Caribbean International’s new 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ships. The Cruise Terminal 18 expansion is the largest and most expensive construction project underway at Port Everglades.  The project will triple the size of the cruise terminal from 67,500 square feet to 240,000 square feet with the addition of a new building that is solely dedicated to accommodating guests arriving at the Port to board their cruise ship. The new building will feature 90 check-in counters, 3,000 seats, Internet access, a children’s play area and public art. The original building is being renovated to process debarking guests with an expansive baggage area and 22 stations to be staffed by US Customs and Border Protection officers. Scheduled for completion in October 2009 in time for the arrival of the first Oasis-class ship, Oasis of the Seas, the entire project is estimated to cost $75 million, of which 89% is being paid for through a long-term capital cost recovery agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. and the balance by Port Everglades, including $6.5 million in state grants.  The project has created approximately 1,400 new construction jobs.

The next stop on the tour was the site of a new bridge that that will expedite truck traffic through the seaport. The new bridge will connect two areas of the port that currently are only accessible through separate entrances with separate security checkpoints. Once completed, the bridge will allow trucks to move cargo internally without leaving the secure area of the Port, which will improve operational flow and reduce operating costs. The project, which creates 196 new construction jobs, is estimated to cost $11.3 million of which $5.1 is funded through state funding.

The final stop on the tour was the site of a new 41-acre marine terminal for containerized cargo. Once completed, the Phase VIIA & VIII terminal yard at the southernmost end of Port Everglades is anticipated to create 15% more capacity for containerized cargo at the Port. The project is expected to be complete by early 2010. The total estimated cost is $12.3 million, of which $6.1 is funded through state matching grants.  More than 220 new construction jobs have resulted from this project.

Gov. Crist was at Port Everglades on June 15, 2009, to sign legislation to increase worker access to Florida ports while maintaining strict securit