TAMPA - A scant two miles of railroad track is being hailed as an economic breakthrough for the Tampa Bay area, though you will probably never ride on it.
The new track and an ethanol pipeline were officially dedicated Tuesday at the Port of Tampa and they promise to deliver a flow of jobs and money.
The joint project by the port, CSX and Kinder Morgan Energy puts railcars closer to the water, allowing ships to load goods on and off trains more quickly and cheaply.
CSX estimates the facility will take 36,000 trucks off the roads in and around the port in the first year.
Much of what will come and go through the new rail terminal are liquid assets, mostly ethanol, from the Midwest that is highly profitable for the rail companies.
CSC Vice President Clarence Gooden has a slogan for that. "We drink the best and haul the rest."
Kidding aside, for the first time, nearly 100 tank cars will be able to offload ethanol in one stop, after which local companies will refine or blend with gasoline to resell.
Rick Scott sent his transportation secretary to applaud the $11 million investment in Tampa's port.
"For private sector to create jobs in this great state, Florida must have the best transportation and infrastructure system in this nation," said Ananth Prasad.
That statement could be seen as a contradiction coming from an administration that turned away a billion-dollar investment for high speed rail along the I-4 corridor.
It was a contradiction not missed by Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor.
"There's really not much of a difference between investing in infrastructure at the port of Tampa or in moving tourists and business people throughout the state of Florida. They create jobs.
Officials would not elaborate, but hinted at many more improvements at the Port of Tampa to come.
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