Rafael Cordero Santiago Port of the Americas

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Port of The Americas
Port of the Americas logo.jpg
The "Port of The Americas" Logo
Location
Country Puerto Rico
Location Barrio La Playa, Ponce
Coordinates 17°58′09″N 66°37′05″W / 17.969099°N 66.617918°W / 17.969099; -66.617918Coordinates: 17°58′09″N 66°37′05″W / 17.969099°N 66.617918°W / 17.969099; -66.617918
Details
Opened 1804 (1804)
Operated by Autonomous Municipality of Ponce
Owned by Ponce Municipal Government[1]
Type of harbor Natural/Artificial
Land area 1,000 acres (1.6 sq mi)
Piers 8
Executive Director Carlos I Mejias Algarin
Cranes 3
Channel depth 50 feet (15 m)
Statistics
Annual cargo tonnage 623,271
Annual container volume 250,000 TEU
Main exports Scrap metal, chemicals, clinker, cement
Main imports Coal, lumber, molasses, syrup, chemicals, gypsum
Rail traffic 18,500 tons
Website
www.portoftheamericas.com

The Rafael Cordero Santiago Port of the Americas (POTA) —Spanish: Puerto de las Américas Rafael Cordero Santiago— is a megaport currently under construction in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The project aims to convert the current Port of Ponce into a value-added tax-free customs-free international shipping hub[2] similar to, though not as large as, the megaports located in Singapore and Rotterdam.[3][4][5] The Port of the Americas is considered Puerto Rico's main Caribbean port,[6] and, at a depth of 50 feet, it is also the deepest port in the Caribbean.[4]

The port was originally overseen by the Port of the Americas Authority (Spanish: Autoridad del Puerto de las Américas) a defunct government-owned corporation of Puerto Rico. The Authority reported that when completed, the new port will have a storage capacity of 2.2 Million TEUs.[7] The Authority also reported that the port handled an estimated 504,044 short tons of cargo in 2007, and projected it to handle over 1.5 million in 2012.[8]

On December 12, 2011, the government of Puerto Rico transferred control of the port to the Ponce municipal government, when governor Luis Fortuño signed[9] to create the Ponce Port AuthoritySpanish: Autoridad del Puerto de Ponce (APP)— an independent government-owned corporation ascribed to the Ponce municipal government.[10][11][12][13] However, as of December 2012, the Port of the Americas Authority still owns most of the port's assets.[14]

Port of Ponce (current port)[edit]

This 1999 photograph of the Port of Ponce and its surrounding lands was taken before the proposed expansion. In the foreground are the Club Náutico de Ponce and La Guancha Boardwalk. At the background is barrio Playa de Ponce. Further in the background are barrio Canas and the hills of western Ponce.

The current port, named the Port of Ponce, is located in the southern tip of the city of Ponce, 1.5 miles south of the intersection of PR-52 and PR-12. The port was created on 28 February 1789, through the Royal Decree of Spanish King Carlos IV de Borbón.[15] It started operating commercially in 1804.[16]

History[edit]

1800–1950[edit]

During 1800–1850, the Port of Ponce became the heart of Ponce's economic control. During this time the Port, with its adjacent massive construction of commercial buildings, stores and warehouses, "became more important to the national [Puerto Rican] economy than San Juan's. By 1890 the Port was exporting 33.2 % of the national production, compared with 21.2% exported from San Juan."[17]

The port has been operated by the municipality of Ponce since 1911,[18] when then-mayor Moret received from the Government of the United States of America a franchise for the city of Ponce to operate the Port of Ponce in perpetuity.[19][20] The port has been an important part of the island’s economy, especially to the sugar cane and coffee industry during the first half of the 20th century. In 1913 the municipality completed a covered pier of concrete and steel with ample depth of water and railroad connections. In 1918 almost 20% of merchant traffic into and out of the Island occurred through this port.[21] The Ponce port is currently the only port in Puerto Rico that is operated as well as owned by a municipal government.[22] The port has 8 piers, numbered 1 through 8.[23]

1950s[edit]

Operations at the Port of Ponce were significantly reduced during the second half of the 20th century, mainly due to the decay of the agricultural industry of the Island and the fact that the government shifted most shipping imports and exports to the San Juan Port located in the island’s capital of San Juan. The Port of San Juan became Puerto Rico’s main shipping port during this time, experiencing significant expansion projects and heavy traffic year-round, while the Port of Ponce was left to handle mostly local operations. It is estimated[24] that 90% of all goods exported or imported in Puerto Rico passed through the Port of San Juan. It has been reported that the Port of Ponce handles about 40% of Puerto Rico's loose shipping traffic.[25] These situations led the mayor of Ponce to seek the transfer of Port of Ponce facilities and operations from the government of the Commonwealth to the Ponce municipal government.

1990s[edit]

Following these ownership changes, several improvements were made to the Port of Ponce, most of them under the administration of late mayor Rafael "Churumba" Cordero Santiago. These improvements included[26][27] repaving worn-out roads, the addition of the short Port of Ponce Railroad system for transporting oil and chemicals from ships to holding tanks via tanker cars (although it is now rarely in operation[28]), and a cruise ship terminal. The port had one quay side crane in operation before the Port of the Americas project got under way, and a second crane was acquired soon after the project began in 2004. The design and addition of a free trade zone within the Port of Ponce has also been studied.[29]

Today[edit]

Today the port seeks to position itself into an international shipping hub. Facilities have also been developed to accommodate cruise ships. Two cruise lines, Holland America and Celebrity, make occasional stops in its port.[30][31] The municipality is seeking to build a new tourist wharf at Avenida Hostos with a total length of 1,200 feet long by 160 feet wide, to berth two mega cruise ships simultaneously. The estimated cost is $57.6M USD, with the expected creation of 600 jobs.[32] In 2003 there was significant opposition from the International Longshoremen's Association to moving freight traffic from the San Juan port to the Port of the Americas.[33]

Port of the Americas (future port)[edit]

History[edit]

The idea of constructing a megaport in the island has been debated since the late 1980s[citation needed]. By then Puerto Rico’s economy was highly dependent on an export manufacturing industry, which in turn relied on substantial federal and commonwealth government tax subsidies. Political and business leaders alike agreed that, in order to secure Puerto Rico’s economic future, the island had to diversify its economy and improve its attractiveness towards manufacturers and similar businesses since it could not rely solely on tax benefits. Therefore, the government decided to invest heavily in developing tourism areas, such as new passenger cruise ship terminals at the San Juan Port, and to initiate plans to convert Puerto Rico into the leading manufacturing and shipping location in the Caribbean. During the late 1990s, the megaport project obtained significant support when the US federal government decided to phase out most of the federal tax subsidies awarded to manufacturing companies in Puerto Rico, and after the neighboring countries of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic announced plans to create megaports of their own.

A new quay crane was installed as part of the port expansion project in 2005.

Potential locations[edit]

The Government of the Commonwealth soon began researching the viability of a megaport in Puerto Rico by conducting land studies throughout the island, economic studies both in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and visiting existing megaports, such as the Port of Singapore and the Port of Rotterdam, in order obtain an idea of a megaport’s operations and impact on local economies. These studies revealed the need for a large transshipment port in the Caribbean region to facilitate distribution from the emerging markets in Asia and the US west coast to the eastern coasts of North, Central and South America. The government also found that Puerto Rico had several advantages over its Caribbean competitors, which included first-class infrastructure (such as highways and several airports), strong economic and political ties with the United States, and the island’s close proximity to the Mona Passage (a large and deep channel between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic through which most ships sail when traveling between the Panama Canal and the US eastern coast). During this research stage, three potential locations were considered for the megaport[5]

  • San Juan Port – This consideration contemplated moving most local shipping operations to other ports on the island and expanding the Port of San Juan into an international megaport.
  • Ponce/Guayanilla/Peñuelas Port – This option contemplated leaving most local operations in San Juan, while converting the Port of Ponce into an international megaport with additional port facilities in the nearby towns of Guayanilla and Peñuelas.
  • Roosevelt Roads (RR) Port – This possible location came into consideration after the US Navy closed its Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in the town of Ceiba. The naval station had adequate piers and quay side, a small airport, and large sections of undeveloped lands. The plan envisioned leaving local operations in San Juan and other local ports while expanding the naval station’s port facilities into a megaport. This option was complicated by the fact that the area was not under the jurisdiction of either the Ceiba municipal government or the government of the Commonwealth, but under that of the U.S. federal government, and would have required either a land concession or a low-cost sale to make the option viable.

Ponce chosen[edit]

Ponce mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago lobbied heavily for the location of the megaport to be in his hometown of Ponce before his untimely death in early 2004. He argued that Ponce already included adequate port facilities, a nearby airport, sufficient road and highway infrastructure, and the availability of approximately 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) adjacent to the port area for immediate development. Expanding the San Juan Port became unattractive as it had run out of land area for any further expansion, while locating the mega port in Guayanilla was abandoned because of environmental concerns in the area.[34] In the end, the Commonwealth government decided to award the location of the Port of the Americas to the City of Ponce. As an act of remembrance, the Government of the Commonwealth signed into law the creation of the Port of the Americas project and named the Rafael Cordero Santiago Port of the Americas after the late mayor.[35]

Management and operation[edit]

The Port of the Americas Project is currently owned and managed by the Port of the Americas Authority (APA, from its Spanish acronym), a joint venture between the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce and the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. APA's current Executive Director is Ramon Torres Morales, an engineer who is also the Executive Director of the current Port of Ponce. The Authority also has a Board of Directors. Sitting on that Board are Puerto Rico's Secretary of Economic Development, the Director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO), Puerto Rico's Secretary of Transportation, and the mayors of Ponce, Guayanilla, and Peñuelas. The Board also includes several other business and civic leaders. It is estimated the Port of the Americas will generate 100,000 jobs.[18] Jorge Hernandez Lazaro served as Executive Director.[36]

Project phases[edit]

The Port of the Americas construction project is divided into four main phases[37] which will add 3,000 feet (910 m) of quay side to the Port of Ponce, dredge the existing port entrance and nearby bay to a depth of 50 feet (15 m), and develop adjacent lots into new container yards.[38] This project would allow the actual Port of Ponce to handle three post-panamax vessels at any given time[39][40] (Puerto Rico previously could not handle these types of ships due to relatively shallow depths) and increase its annual throughput to a total of 1.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU).[41] Final project costs are currently estimated at $750 million USD.[42]

  • Phase 1 - The first phase of the project adds 1,200 ft (365.76 m) of quay to the existing piers, which will then accommodate four modern quay cranes with a rail gauge of 100 ft (30.48 m). This phase finished two months ahead of schedule in late 2004.
  • Phase 2 - The second phase, which began in 2005, aims to dredge the existing Ponce bay near the entrance of the Port, the entrance channel and the piers to a depth of 50 ft (15.24 m), making them the deepest in the Caribbean. The dredging will relocate approximately 5.5 million cubic meters of marine soil .[43] This phase also includes developing 18 acres (73,000 m2) adjacent to the current piers to increase its yard capacity by 250,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of annual throughput.
  • Phase 3 - This phase plans to convert land adjacent to the current port into a 50 ft (15.24 m) deep canal adding 1,500 ft (460 m) of quay side for additional vessels and developing other sections near the future canal to increase total annual throughput to 700,000 TEU.
  • Phase 4 - The final stage will add another 50-foot-deep (15 m) canal, adding 1,500 feet (460 m) of quay side, and developing adjacent lands into new container yards, increasing the Port's annual throughput to a total of 1,400,000 TEU.[1]

Port development[edit]

On 21 January 2010,[44] two huge post-panamax cranes arrived at the Port of the Americas from Shanghai, China.[45][46] They were built by ZPMC at a cost of $22.7 millions.[46] In addition to the two post-Panamax cranes, the port's inventory consists of one Gottwald crane—used for "loose" freight—and seven Rubber Tire Gantry cranes, purchased in 2008 for handling container freight.[47]

On 26 September 2011, the Governor of Puerto Rico transferred the entire governance structure of the Port of the Americas to the Ponce Municipal Government[48] to be managed by an authority to be created at the municipal level, called "Autoridad del Puerto de Ponce" (Ponce Port Authority).[49] As part of the transfer accord the commonwealth-level Autoridad del Puerto de las Americas (POTA Authority) ceased to exist. The transfer was made pursuant to Mayor Melendez's "Solucion Poncena".[1] The transfer became law on 12 December 2011.[50]

The post-panamax cranes were first put into commercial use on 21 December 2011 with the offloading of five containers destined to Campamento Santiago in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The operation required the support of the Ponce Municipal Police Marine Unit, Fuerzas Unidas de Rapida Accion (United Forces for Fast Action, FURA), the Ponce Municipal Office for Emergency Management, the Puerto Rico Police, the Puerto Rico Fire Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Puerto Rico National Guard, and POTA personnel.[51]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mayita y Fortuño se reunirán para la "Solución Ponceña". El Sur a la Vista. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 22 September 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  2. ^ Ponencia a la Vista Publica del 9 de abril de 2013 de la Comision para el Desarollo Integrado de la Zona Sur de la Camara de Representantes del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico Relacionada a la Implementacion de la Ley 240-2011 Conocida como "Solucion Ponceña". Patrick Urbain, Architect. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  3. ^ Alcaldesa Mayita Meléndez confiada en su plan para el Puerto de Ponce. 23 September 2010. El Sur a la vista. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  4. ^ a b Caribbean Business. June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  5. ^ a b Ponencia del Gobierno Municipal Autonomo de Ponce Before the Senate of Puerto Rico. Rafael Cordero Santiago, Alcalde de Ponce. Page 4. Julio 1999. Retrieved 19 September 2013. (For the date of this "Ponencia", see http://ponce.inter.edu/cai/mega_puerto_eng/puertorico.htm )
  6. ^ Ponce. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Licensed from Columbia University Press. 2004. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  7. ^ Imponentes Gruas Post-Panamax en Camino a Ponce (In Spanish) December 4, 2009. By Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Port of the Americas Authority. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  8. ^ Drug Market Analysis 2008: Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. U.S. Dept of Justice. National Drug Intelligence Center. Page 5
  9. ^ Ley: Proyecto del Senado Numero 2394, Ley 240 de 2011. 16 Asamblea Legislativa. Sexta Sesion. Approved 12 December 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  10. ^ Firmada la ley de la "Solución Ponceña". El Sur a la Vista. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  11. ^ Nombran a timoneros de Solución Ponceña. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  12. ^ Ponce Port Authority Act, Act No. 240 of 2011 (in Spanish). Retrieved on December 22, 2012.
  13. ^ "Gobernador crea Autoridad del Puerto de Ponce" (in Spanish). Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico. December 12, 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Sin cabeza el Puerto de Las Américas". La Perla del Sur (in Spanish). December 6, 2012. Paragraph 10. Retrieved December 30, 2012. Actualmente, la APA es titular de la mayoría de los activos del Puerto de Las Américas[ ... ] 
  15. ^ Exposiciones en la Casa Alcaldía y el Puerto de Ponce. El Sur a la Vista. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  16. ^ Established on Feb 28, 1789. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  17. ^ Aida Belen Rivera Ruiz, Certifying Official, and Juan Llanes Santos, Preparer, Puerto Rico Historic Preservation Office. (San Juan, Puerto Rico) 26 February 2008. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Page 14. Listing Reference Number 08000283. 11 April 2008.
  18. ^ a b Ponencia del Gobierno Municipal Autonomo de Ponce Before the Senate of Puerto Rico. By Rafael Cordero Santiago, Alcalde de Ponce. Page 5.
  19. ^ Neysa Rodriguez Deynes. Brevario Sobre la Historia de Ponce. Second Edition. Government of the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce. 2002. Page 14. Printed by Impress Quality Printing, Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
  20. ^ Administración Municipal engaña a los ponceños indica presidente del PPD en Ponce. El Sur a la Vista. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  21. '^ Annual Report of the Secretary of War, Volume 2. By United States War Dept. Page 501.
  22. ^ Investments Of $605 Million To Double Ponce’s Business Growth, Create Thousands Of Jobs, And Spearhead The Southern Region’s Tourism. Lida Estela RuanÑo. Caribbean Busienss. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 19 September 2011.]
  23. ^ Engavetan su internacionalización: Cambia rumbo el Puerto de Las Américas. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. Peridoico La Perla del Sur. 21 September 2010.
  24. ^ Water Resources Development in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By United States Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville (Florida) District. 1998. Page 43. Table titled "Navigation: Summary of Statistical Data."
  25. ^ [ Loose traffic]
  26. ^ Ponce Harbor, Puerto Rico. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Program and Project Management Division. Jacksonville District Office. Page 2. Retrieved 14 December 2011
  27. ^ Digital Projects Notebook. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Program and Project Management Division. Jacksonville District Office. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  28. ^ Ferrocarriles de Puerto Rico
  29. ^ Imagen Ponce: Public and Private Interest in the Design of a Free Zone within the Port of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Hermann Ferre III. Department of Architecture, MIT. June 1989. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  30. ^ Puerto Rico’s Second City Steps Out. Jeremy W. Peters. The New York Times. Travel Section. 17 February 17, 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  31. ^ PRTC
  32. ^ Ponce, PR: Construction of new tourist wharf at Hostos St. with a total length of 1,200 feet long by 160 feet wide, to berth two mega cruise ships simultaneously. Stimulus Watch. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  33. ^ ILA seeks new options in San Juan port planning. American Shipper/Howard Publications, Inc. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  34. ^ Obstacles to Sustainability in the Development of the Port of the Americas, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Christopher S. Mahendra, Naval Air Engineering Station, Lakehurst, NJ; Woon Kwong Liew. Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT. Control/Tracking Number : 05-A-419-AWMA. ca. 2005. Page 3.
  35. ^ Legislature of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Law 166 of June 28, 2004, renaming the Port of the Americas as the ‘Rafael "Churumba" Cordero Santiago Port of the Americas’.
  36. ^ Engavetan su internacionalización: Cambia rumbo el PLA. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  37. ^ "About the Project." Port of the Americas. Government of the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce. (In Spanish). Retrieved 11 January 2009
  38. ^ Water Resources Development in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By United States Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville (Florida) District. 1998. Pages 12, 14.
  39. ^ Post-Panamax vessels. Puerto Rico Business Register.
  40. ^ Press Release Press Release: Port of the Americas Moving at Full Speed. Autoridad del Puerto de las Americas. March 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2009.]
  41. ^ "About the Project. Port of the Americas. Government of the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  42. ^ Cost of $750 Million USD
  43. ^ "Dredging Project of Ponce Bay Starts for Megaport Project" (in Spanish) by Alex David, Primera Hora, 14 July 2005. Retrieved 30 June 2006
  44. ^ Grúas cumplen año y medio de incercia. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  45. ^ Tras inversión de $22.7 millones: Llegan las nuevas grúas al Puerto de Ponce. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  46. ^ a b En poco más de un mes: Sin más fondos la chequera del PLA. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  47. ^ Abre caja de pandora hallazgo en Puerto . Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  48. ^ Alcaldesa asumirá control del PLA. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 28 September 2011. Page 8. Year 29. Issue 1452. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  49. ^ Afloran contradicciones de la Alcaldesa Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  50. ^ Firmada la ley de la "Solución Ponceña". El Sur a la Vista. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  51. ^ Comienza movimiento de carga en el Puerto de Ponce. El Sur a la Vista. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.

External links[edit]