Personally, I am thrilled that forward-thinking governmental officials at the Florida Department of Transportation are spending $151,488 for a study of ports in Manatee County, St, Petersburg and Tampa to assess the possibility of raising the Sunshine Skyway Bridge or creating a cruise port west of the bridge.
In an important, informative story in the Herald, Carlos Buqueras, the Port Manatee executive director, informed us that cruise ships are expected to get bigger. And all this time I thought they were going to get smaller. The big ships can carry as many as 6,400 passengers, Buqueras added.
Apparently, the bigger cruise ships under construction won't fit under the Skyway, according to Robin Stublen of the FDOT. This is outrageous! How can we allow cruise ports like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, with no pesky bridges to get in the way, to usurp business harvests that we, too, are entitled to reap.
Revamping the Sunshine Skyway is a great idea. True, it might be a tad costly and it may benefit only the cruise lines, but bragging rights of having cruise ports the largest ships can get into would be worth it. We must have the money to do it if the FDOT can spend $151,488 on a survey that will be out shortly after Christmas.
To build a cruise port west of the Skyway is also an excellent idea. Removing Fort DeSoto for the addition of large warehouses and parking lots would help our economy enormously. Who uses Fort Desoto? Just some locals, tourists, fishermen and the Tampa Bay Pilots. Don't know why the latter group goes there. There's not even an airstrip.
Another option might be razing Egmont Key. Let's get our priorities in order, people!