Palm Beach County and Transportation: There Are Many Niche Opportunities

Leon Fooksman
Leadership Palm Beach County
April 27, 2015

When it comes to transportation, our community needs new ideas, approaches and strategies that can bring us more financial resources and connect us to regional planning efforts.


That was among the issues that members of our 2015 Leadership Engage class discussed during their recent Transportation Day. They also learned: Palm Beach County has tremendous resources -- including the Port of Palm Beach -- that can attract niche business opportunities from across the world.


Learn more what they discussed below, as explained by class member James D'Loughy:


1) What was the most important issue/debate discussed during the Session Day? What is the best way to solve/address that issue?


Becoming more collaborative, focused, and strategic in our long-term planning will help our regional transportation and sustainability to be brought current with our contemporaries, some of whom have superiorly planned regions.


We must move beyond what is currently being done which can only be achieved if substantially new ideas, approaches, and strategies are pursued. To do this, we must learn from other regions and raise the bar on our sustainability goals, while supporting and continuing to build on existing sustainability efforts in the region.


The problem does not appear to be competence but rather a lack of badly needed financial resources. While there are competing demands on our natural environment, government services, community relationships, educational systems, and personal health and satisfaction, rather than these demands becoming polarized by competing for grants and tax dollars—stakeholders of each group must come together to harmonize their interests and jointly appeal the local, state and federal governments for funding.



2) What was the second most important issue/debate discussed during the Session Day? What is the best way to solve/address that issue?


The Port of Palm Beach is a strategically placed natural asset.


While small compared to neighboring ports, the Port of Palm Beach is exceptionally managed. The port is the primary feeder to the Caribbean, however, there is considerable more bandwidth that can be exploited to increase traffic.  It cannot complete with Miami or Jacksonville for container or cruise ship traffic given the lack of availability of adjacent land, narrow channel and shallow shipping lane depth. So the port must continually diversify and reinvent itself by identifying niche business opportunities.


With the anticipation of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the increase of maritime traffic, the Port of Palm Beach has a tremendous opportunity to be a niche player in the seagoing transportation world. For the meantime, the lack of maintenance dredging of the inlet and harbor areas, the lack of funding from state and federal sources for dredging and port development, will require the port to be more creative to attract revenue generating partners.  The attraction of export businesses to the County would be a good impetus to increase traffic and shed light on the importance of the Port of Palm Beach.



3) What can the broader leadership community do to solve/address these issues? Be specific with a call to action.


Partnerships between MPOs and other transportation entities are critical for the evolution and effectiveness of mega-regions transportation planning efforts.


Stakeholders should meet to jointly develop a vision, study, or plan that addresses mega-region-scale transportation problems. They should also come together to create programs or projects that addresses this problem, such as a communications system to coordinate traffic management or the streamlining of the rail services, including the high-speed rail.


All mega-region planning should take into consideration the implications of global competitiveness and the effects of how national politics and global economic forces can negatively impacts programs. Politics, to the extent that it is possible, should be eliminated from the equation through lifetime committee appointments.  Multi-disciplinary representatives, possessing higher knowledge, should represent all areas including but not limited to, the natural environment, government services, community relationships, educational systems, and personal health and satisfaction. There should be a conscious effort to eliminate the seasonal political hacks who could distract from favorable outcomes.


James D'Loughy, Esq., is managing member of AdvisorLaw.