Vice President Joe Biden has brought to the busy Port of Houston the Obama administration's assertion that boosting federal investment in the nation's infrastructure will help create jobs and grow the economy.
Biden spoke from a podium set up inside a ring of boxcar-like freight containers and under a line of towering cranes that remove the cargo containers from ships.
Biden's appearance Monday came a day before he's to tour the Panama Canal. An expansion project there, set for completion in 2015, is expected to bring even larger vessels to U.S. ports including Houston, which is ranked first in the country in export tonnage.
"So when the Panama Canal doubles capacity, the US has the potential of multiplying its exports considerably and at much lower cost," Biden said.
He told the group that the Port of Houston will have to have water about 50 feet deep in order to handle the larger ships that will run through the expanding Panama Canal.
"It means products made in Texas can be more efficiently stacked, shipped, and people can see all around the world the phrase, stamped, made in America. That's jobs. That's commerce," said Biden.
"When they can use larger vessels, reduce operating costs, have a shorter route, we just think there are great opportunities for the Port Of Houston to capture new business," said Phyllis Saathoff, Deputy Executive Director of the Port of Houston.
Overall, the 25-mile-long Port of Houston handles more than 200 million tons of cargo annually.