President Obama traveled to PortMiami Friday to talk about the importance of the nation’s infrastructure to the economy. He outlined a plan for state and local governments to fund large-scale infrastructure projects through private sector partnerships.
PortMiami provided the perfect backdrop for the announcement. The port is undergoing a series of multimillion-dollar improvements including a $915 million project to dig a tunnel under Biscayne Bay that will directly connect the port to I-395.
During his speech, President Obama emphasized that one of the most important things the country can do to create jobs and strengthen the economy is to invest in its infrastructure.
He pointed to the tunnel project—and the way it was funded by city, county and state governments—as an example of how he wants the private and public sectors to work together.
“They partnered with a group of private sector companies to finance the design and construction of the project,” Obama said. “They made it clear that the payments to these companies would be linked to their performance so if there were big cost overruns, the private companies would have to eat those extra costs.”
During his visit, Obama outlined a proposal he called the ‘Partnership to Rebuild America.’
“It’s a partnership with the private sector that creates jobs upgrading what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children.”
Among other initiatives, the Obama Administration is proposing $4 billion in new competitive funding for programs that supply grants and loans to transportation projects as well as a $10 billion national infrastructure bank. All proposals must get Congressional approval.
Other major improvements to PortMiami include a nearly $47 million project to connect the port to the rail system and a $180 million project to dredge the port channel to 50 feet. PortMiami and several other ports up the East Coast are dredging in order to fit the larger cargo ships that will be coming out of a newly deepened Panama Canal in 2015.