Today, we attended the State of the Ports Luncheon, along with several of our Bilzin Sumberg colleagues and over 1,000 prominent business leaders in our community, including representatives from local government, major cruise lines and the United States Coast Guard.

Those in attendance at the annual “State of the Ports” address enjoyed an exclusive screening of Going Under, a humorous video starring local officials and personalities extolling the long-awaited Port Tunnel.  Bill Johnson, director of Port Miami, presented the lighthearted film with its upbeat message about PortMiami infrastructure improvements as part of his eighth annual address to the community on activities at the seaport.

The new tunnel, scheduled to open in less than 100 days, is one of $2 billion in infrastructure projects that will make Port Miami “Big Ship Ready” in time to accommodate the supersized ships that will traverse the expanded Panama Canal when it is completed next year.  The tunnel, the “deep dredge” of the PortMiami Channel and the restoration of on-port rail service will open new global trade opportunities.  Rail connections to PortMiami will place 70% of the US population within one to four days travel time of Miami, ensuring that PortMiami will offer the fastest freight access to consumers in the Southeast.

Johnson reported that PortMiami continues to be the “Cruise Capital of the World” and that no other port matches its cruise passenger volumes.  With annual passenger boardings currently approaching 5 million, Johnson predicts that PortMiami will accommodate 6 million passengers by 2020.  New cruise lines and new cruise ships will make Miami their home in 2014.

PortMiami contributes 225,000 jobs and $30 billion to the local economy, and as Johnson said, “It’s only getting better.”