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Port Canaveral plans to withdraw a proposal for a cargo rail route from the port to the mainland.
Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray on Wednesday will ask port commissioners to vote to approve the withdrawal of the proposal, which now is pending before the federal Surface Transportation Board.
Murray said the port's strategic master plan now being developed "identifies no current or projected economic data that presents a compelling case for the port to pursue rail."
The rail plan has been a source of controversy in the community. An early proposal of the plan included a route over the Banana River, which many local residents opposed because of environmental concerns. A later, less controversial port proposal called for a route through Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Now, though, Murray is recommending that the port drop the rail idea altogether.
"The port's rail proposal has been under review by the Surface Transportation Board for some time," Murray said. "As we're approaching the final review stage of our strategic master plan, the Surface Transportation Board has asked the port to clarify its time frame for rail development at the port, currently shown in the year 2040 in the proposed master plan."
Murray noted that the master plan has been in development for nearly two years.
"It's a structured and realistic vision for the port and our future land use," Murray said. "The plan's framework is rooted in a comprehensive analysis of market data and projections for all of our business lines. This plan is an important blueprint for the port's future, projecting the best use for our resources."
He noted in a statement issued late Tuesday that the port has priorities other than cargo rail.
Murray said revenue generation and financial stability "are essential to ensure the long-term viability of our port. Accelerated growth in cruise and commercial space is driving new commitments of the port. Future demand for land use and bulkhead space is greater than what we currently have available."
Port commissioners plan to vote on Murray's recommendation to drop the cargo rail plan at its meeting that begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the port's Maritime Center, 445 Challenger Road.
Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY.
This article first appeared on www.floridatoday.com
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