President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Port Miami today to highlight it as an example of a successful public-private partnership. In particular, the dredging project currently underway will deepen to allow the port to handle larger cargo ships in anticipation of more traffic through the expanded Panama Canal. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The Port of Miami is a major center of commerce and an example of the critical infrastructure improvements that are being undertaken to remain competitive in the global marketplace using the types of combined investment from the federal government, state government and local government, and private investors that the president has called for.”
The President’s visit (and the port project itself) is not without controversy. Even though the $2 billion PortMiami project includes $340 million in federal funds that have been granted or loaned to Florida for PortMiami infrastructure just during President Obama’s time in office, this didn’t stop Rick Scott from dissing our President yesterday – saying that the federal government is “late to the party on Florida port investments.” Is this the same Rick Scott who turned down over $25 million in federal grants for Florida health care in 2011 and $2 billion in federal funds for a high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa?
“The President believes that the Port of Miami can enhance the competitiveness of workers and businesses throughout the region and in the nation as a whole. That’s why the Administration has taken a number of steps to fund and facilitate improvements at the Port, including a $340 million TIFIA loan to help finance the Port of Miami tunnel project and a $23 million TIGER grant to restore freight rail service between the Port and the Florida East Coast Railway, as well as completing the permitting for the Port’s dredging project on an expedited timeline last August as part of the Administration’s push to cut red tape around infrastructure construction,” according to a statement released by White House spokeswoman Joanna Rosholm.
Several environmental groups will be there protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. In an emailed statement, Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager for CREDO, said: “We’re joining with our friends at 350, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity to make sure President Obama gets the message every single place he makes a public appearance. RSVP on Facebook to make sure you get any last-minute updates from the event organizers before the event. At CREDO, we’re doing everything in our power to make sure President Obama takes climate change seriously in his second term, starting by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.” From their FaceBook page:
What: Miami Tells Obama: No KXL!
When: March 29th, at 12pm
Where: We will meet at the corner of Biscayne and 8th St NE in front of the basketball arena.
This event is sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, CREDO, 350.org, and the Sierra Club.
Jerry from the Center for Biological Diversity is the contact person and can be reached at 305.484.7943.
Politics aside, the practical impact to downtown Miami include street closures around and into Port Miami from 12:30 until 2:45 this afternoon. Metrorail, MetroMover and Trolley services will also be shut down for approximately 30 minutes while President Obama is at the port.
I am in full agreement that the Keystone XL pipeline needs to be rejected, think we need the Port Miami expansion for economic reasons but cringe at the environmental damage, think the traffic disruptions are simply part of the excitement of living downtown where everything is happening, and I adore President Obama. What do you think?