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Port far from decision on cruise ship options, says director

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Published:   |   Updated: July 23, 2014 at 07:20 PM

— Port Tampa Bay isn’t anywhere close to deciding how to handle its cruise ship business in the future, Port Director Paul Anderson told the Westshore Alliance Wednesday.

“No decision has been made. We haven’t studied the options,” he told the group of business leaders. “We are so far out from doing anything.”

The Florida Department of Transportation released a pre-feasibility study last month that considers several options for how to work around the height limitations of the Sunshine Skyway and keep the cruise industry robust in Tampa Bay. Newer, larger cruise ships are too tall to navigate under the bridge. The options range from a new cruise ship terminal west of the bridge to raising the bridge or replacing it, ranging in price from more than $600 million to about $2 billion, according to the report.

Without further study, Anderson said, no one can make a decision. And, he said, the numbers in the report are speculation.

Having the state conduct a pre-feasibility study was a smart business move in determining where the port should go, but it is a preliminary step, he said.

The Hillsborough Port Authority Board voted recently to request that FDOT take the next step and complete a thorough feasibility study laying out the options, both technically, financially and otherwise.

Meanwhile, Anderson told the Westshore Alliance, the port’s cruise ship business should continue to grow over the next five to eight years.

yhammett@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7127

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