News Column

Fla. Gov. Scott: Obama 'Late to the Party' for PortMiami

March 29, 2013

President Obama, who visits PortMiami Friday to tout investing in infrastructure, should reimburse Florida for its port projects, the state's governor said.

"We're certainly glad President Obama is coming to the Port of Miami ... but he's late to the party," Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for re-election, told reporters in a conference call ahead of Obama's afternoon visit.

"We could not wait for the federal government to come to the table with their share of the project," Scott said Thursday, demanding Obama "step up to the plate" and promise to reimburse Washington's share of the funding.

In the past three years, Florida taxpayers invested $425 million in seaport-related upgrades, Scott said. This includes $77 million two years ago to fund the port's $180 million "deep dredge" project, deepening the port to 50 from 42 feet, which will let Miami handle bigger cargo ships and is projected to create more than 30,000 new jobs, he said.

The White House responded to Scott, saying it funded a $340 million loan to help finance PortMiami's port tunnel project, connecting the port to major highways, and a $23 million grant to restore freight rail service between PortMiami and the Florida East Coast Railway, which provides intermodal shipping-container transportation.

"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," White House spokeswoman Joanna Rosholm said in a statement.

Obama was to tour the PortMiami tunnel project at 1:20 p.m. and deliver remarks on the economic benefits of investing in port, road and bridge investment at 2 p.m.

Both PortMiami projects are scheduled to be completed next year.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2013

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