Gov. Rick Scott touted progress at PortMiami while he got an up close look at a dredging vessel on Fisherman's Channel Friday morning.
"We can be... the shipping capital for the East Coast," he said.
He noted the port has a $34-billion annual economic impact, and the dredging project alone could create 30,000 jobs.
The governor hopped on a small boat and took a ride around a vessel known as the Terrapin Island, which dredges silt and loose rock up from the channel floor. In about a week, that vessel will make way for a larger one to do heavy-lifting: breaking up large rocks to deepen the port to 50 feet.
Jamie Scott manages a towing company at the port. She's optimistic about the future impact of deeper waters. "Hopefully we'll be able to compete on the East coast with the larger ports," she said.
With a 50-foot depth, PortMiami would be able to receive cargo vessels three and four times the size of those that dock there now; the kind of vessels expected to come through an expanded Panama Canal by 2015.
Crews are aiming to have the port's deepening project completed the same year.