Port Authority looking into long-term expansion goals

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CAPE CANVERAL, Fla. —

Plenty of cruise ships are already traveling through Port Canaveral on a regular basis, but as the Port Authority builds its expansion, leaders are wondering if they can get a bigger foothold into a second business that involves transporting more than just passengers.

Construction is just underway on a new $50 million cruise terminal at Port Canaveral, but already there are discussions about the Port Authority's long-term expansion goals and some acreage north of the barge canal.

"It would give us an opportunity," said Jerry Allender, vice chairman of the Port Authority.

The property happens to be part of the acreage the Port Authority signed over to the federal government in 1957.  Port CEO John Walsh recently said he could see the port leasing 100, 200 or even 300 acres from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to expand port operations.

"More likely for cargo right now," said Allender. "On the north side, we do have some land designated for cargo."

The land lease idea is only in the discussion stages, but some other plans are already much closer to reality, with possible cruise expansions of the Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines. 

And that could mean a boost for the port and its neighbors.

"It brings a ton of energy," said nearby business owner Mike Schwarz. "We've been here 10 years and have seen nothing but growth and expansion, and it helps grow the business, the whole area. It grows jobs, creates opportunity."

The port is also in the process of deepening and widening its cruise channel to accommodate larger ships.