Miami to Possibly Double River Cargo Load

February 3, 2018

Information derived from an ongoing study led by Florida state concludes the river has the ability to handle double the cargo being moved on the waterway. The study is part of the Miami River Freight Improvement Plan.

“There’s a lot of reserve capacity on the river,” elaborated Jack Schnettler, vice president and senior transportation engineer with Atkins North America Inc. Atkins is a consulting firm that is collaborating with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on the river’s  freight study.

During the January Miami River Commission meeting, Schnettler presented a PowerPoint on a freight improvement plan. The Miami River is now in FDOT’s Strategic Intermodal System or SIS plan, which makes it qualified for SIS funding. The funding will start with a significant amount, $300,000, which will be used to devise the Miami River Freight Improvement Plan, which will create an established business case to hopefully qualify them for further SIS funding to implement the plan of improvements to the Port of Miami River. The river commission learned that they are now qualified for federal improvement funds as well.

The qualification for multiple funding options is great news for river commission officials who are looking for ways to shore up river facilities, which will ultimately improve the waterway’s marine-industrial capability. They will be able to improve things such as destroyed seawalls that have occurred from erosion and improve the upper river which will increase the value of the site.

Officials say the potential improvement funds could go towards rebuilding the shoreline and seawall.

The Port of Miami River was first included in the Southeast Florida Regional Freight Plan,  which was part of FDOT’s Strategic Intermodal System back in 2015. The state transportation department has spent more than $850 million on seaports in Florida since 2011.

The river freight plan will create and put strategies into practice to improve freight mobility as well as create viable options to improve intermodal freight movement.

The ongoing study of the river includes:

  • Conducting agency, partner, and stakeholder engagement.
  • Reviewing existing plans, data and policies.
  • Inventorying existing freight infrastructure.
  • Evaluating existing and future conditions and needs.
  • Assessing market opportunities including short sea shipping.
  • Developing proposed improvement actions.
  • Prioritizing recommended improvements.


Data from the study noted 82% of bridge openings at the Brickell Bridge are for recreational vessels while only 18% are for international shipping vessels.

There are an estimated 80 to 120 cargo shipping vessel movements per month on Port Miami River’s designated federal navigable channel or 960 to 1,440 throughout the year.


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