By Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT

Charles A. ‘Chuck’ Towsley is stepping down as port director at the Port of Miami-Dade County.

In a May 1 announcement that took observers by surprise, Towsley said he plans to resign effective June 5 from the post he has held for the past eight years. He cited unspecified personal reasons.

Miami-Dade County officials said they have not yet determined how Towsley’s succession will be handled.

Towsley, 58, said he plans to work as a consultant, ‘‘with the private sector in the South Florida maritime community.’

‘I am pleased that the port has accomplished or is near realizing many of my goals for cruise and cargo growth, improved infrastructure, enhanced security and better customer service,’ Towsley said. ‘I look back with pride upon the milestones achieved during my last eight years at the Port of Miami.’

During Towsley’s tenure, the Port of Miami has experienced significant growth, reaching an annual cruise passenger count of nearly four million while becoming the first Florida port to surpass one million twenty-foot-equivalent units (teus) of containerized cargo traffic in a year.

However, the port has suffered from trucker-related delays and continues to be plagued with congestion problems related to its location on an island that connects via bridge to downtown Miami mainland streets. Those problems, Towsley has repeatedly said, are not likely to be corrected without construction of an underwater tunnel link to the Interstate highway system ’ a $1 billion-plus project that still is several years away.