TAMPA — The state will help pay for a $45 million upgrade to the petroleum facilities at the Port of Tampa, Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday.
The state and the port will split the cost of the project, which will add two new petroleum berths and rehabilitate the petroleum terminal infrastructure, Scott said at the Governor's Luncheon at the Florida State Fair.
When completed in 2014, the upgrade will allow the port to handle up to 5 million more tons of petroleum products a year, or 70 million barrels total. It will create 822 construction jobs and thousands of more permanent jobs over the next 30 years, the port estimates.
Scott told those attending the luncheon that widening of the Panama Canal should leave Florida well positioned to capitalize, leading to the creation of new jobs.
"We should be the shipping capital for at least the East Coast," Scott said.
The port is the primary energy gateway for Central Florida, handling more than 7 million tons of petroleum products a year, including jet fuel for Tampa International and Orlando International airports.
The state Department of Transportation will spend $22.5 million on the new facility and the port will pay the rest.
"By prioritizing vital transportation projects, we can make Florida a better place for businesses to grow and expand and help get Floridians back to work," Scott said in a prepared statement. "This project will enhance Florida's infrastructure and get our state ready for a new generation of international trade with the Caribbean, South America and beyond."
Design of the project is 90 percent complete. The port has hired a construction management firm and necessary dredging has started. Construction should begin in 60 to 90 days.
The project has been under design and planning for two years, with the port putting it up for funding consideration from the state last year. The port's contribution will come from money it collects from businesses that lease its land.
Port Director Richard Wainio issued a statement praising the governor.
"Governor Scott has clearly and consistently focused on the importance of strategic development and investment in trade and port infrastructure, and I want to express my deep appreciation to the governor for today's announcement," Wainio said.