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RIVER AND HARBOR BILL
COMMITTEE ON RIVERS AND HARBORS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Thursday, April 3, 1924. The committee met at 1.30 o'clock p. m., Hon. S. Wallace Dempsey (chairman) presiding.
STATEMENT OF MAJ. GEN. LANSING H. BEACH, CHIEF OF
ENGINEERS, UNITED STATES ARMY
The CHAIRMAN. General, I thought we would take these up in the order that you deemed them important. Take up the one that you think will have the largest commerce and that demands attention more immediately than any others and then we will go along with them in that order. Which do you think we had better take
MIAMI HARBOR, FLA.
General BEACH. Mr. Chairman, I do not think it is necessarily the one with the largest commerce that is the most important, because sometimes there are localities where a small amount of money will produce a great relief. We can get a good deal of benefit from ą small amount and the relief is very important. So I do not think it is necessarily a question of the amount of commerce that is involved.
Taking them up in some order of importance, I would state that Miami Harbor, Fla., is a locality which we might consider.
The CHAIRMAN. Would we need a map, General for the purpose of . your testimony as to that harbor ?
General BEACH. I doubt if you do. I have one right here attached to the report, which I can pass around.
Mr. McDÚFFIE. General, what district is that in?
The CHAIRMAN. General, will you just tell us what the proposed improvement is and then go on with the details?
General BEACH. The improvement desired, which is that recommended by the Board of Engineers for rivers and harbors and myself, is for a channel 25 feet deep at mean low water, 500 feet wide from the 25-foot depth in the ocean to near the outer ends of the jetties, thence 300 feet wide to the entrance, reducing to 200 feet wide across Biscayne Bay and following the route of the existing municipal channel, at an estimated cost of $1,605,000.
The present channel across the bay is only 100 feet wide. It is too narrow for vessels to navigate in in a strong cross-wind.
You know that a boat has to head up into the wind to a certain extent, because otherwise it drifts, and with the channel only 100 feet wide, there is no chance for it to do that. Steamers also have considerable difficulty in passing each other in the channel.
It has been found that with the present depth of 20 feet, a great number of tankers are unable to come into the harbor. They have to lighter outside in the ocean and then come in with reduced cargo. So that there is no question but that the increased width and depth are a great need at this place. The city and its trade are both growing very rapidly and I think it is a most deserving improvement.
The CHAIRMAN. Miami has grown now so that it has a permanent population of about 65,000 people, has it not?
General BEACH. About that class of figures.
The CHAIRMAN. I have been told that the transportation by railroad has grown within the last 7 or 8 years to 10 times the proportion it was 10 years ago.
General BEACH. During the winter, the Florida East Coast Railroad can handle its passenger traffic only with considerable difficulty. It really does not have time or opportunity to run freight trains.
The southern end of Florida is developing very rapidly as an almost tropical fruit-producing section. They are producing alligator pears down there at a great rate and soon will do so in such quantities (orchards having been set out to a great extent) that they think within a very few years the price of alligator pears throughout the United States will be cut in half by this source of supply. Miami has become a port of call for vessels bound up and down the coast.
Mr. Newton. What do you mean by a port of call ?
General BEACH. When a véssel stops and discharges and takes on passengers and cargo without that port being the end of the journey. It is an intermediate point. Vessels going up and down that coast are so close to the shore that they can run into Miami with very little delay in time.
Mr. McDUFFIE. How far is it out to the ship channel ?
General BEACH. Vessels go so close there you can often read their names with a pair of glasses.
Mr. HULL. You can see them with the naked eye.
The CHAIRMAN. Really, Mr. Hull, it is not much over 2,000 feet, is it, from Miami beach?
Mr. HULL. No; not more than that.
The CHAIRMAN. General, there has developed within a comparatively short time a region known as Redlands, to the south of Miami, covering a good many thousand acres of land, which is very rich and productive for the growth of vegetables, such as tomatoes, lettuce, and for the growth of oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit, and very large areas, probably a great many thousand acres, are cultivated annually with vegetables and have been set out in orchards there.
General BEACH. That is correct, and the amount of land which is being utilized is increasing very rapidly every year.
The lower end of Florida was almost uninhabitable until the Evergiades were drained. With the draining of the Everglades the whole lower end of the State was opened up for settlement and cultivation, and the soil is what has been accumulating without any drain upon