By MarEx 2015-06-29 10:59:43
South Florida’s Port Everglades received a signed Chief of Engineers Report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday that clears the way for the Port to begin the next phase of deepening and widening its channels.
“After almost two decades of study and research, we are confident that the Corps has developed a plan that keeps Port Everglades competitive globally so that jobs are sustained and created locally,” said Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan. “The plan also uses innovative solutions to address valid environmental concerns that have been raised by environmental stakeholders.”
The project is designed to enable safe passage of deep draft Post-Panamax cargo ships. Port Everglades already handles Post-Panamax ships from Europe and South America, but the ships must be lightly loaded, which is inefficient, especially as older fleets are being replaced with much larger ships and the Panama Canal is being expanded.
Main features of the project are to deepen the main navigational channels from 42 feet to 48 feet (plus 1-foot required and another 1-foot allowable overdepth for a total of 50 feet), and to deepen and widen the Entrance Channel and parts of the Intracoastal Waterway so that cargo ships can pass safely by docked cruise ships.
“Port Everglades is a giant economic engine for South Florida. The port must modernize and expand or the new current day cargo ships will pass us by – taking with them thousands of new jobs and over $30 million of economic impact each year,” said U.S. Congresswoman Lois Frankel.
The project study received Congressional authorization in 1996. The signed and approved Chief’s Report now allows Port Everglades to move forward to the Pre-Construction Engineering and Design phase.
A key environmental component of the approved plan includes planting approximately 103,000 new nursery-raised corals in 18 acres of existing reef areas, relocating approximately 11,500 existing corals to create 2 acres of artificial reef, and creating 3 acres of artificial reef habitat for natural recruitment which will replace nearly 15 acres of existing hard-bottom reef habitat.
In addition, the mitigation plan includes restoring seagrasses and mangroves, and building environmentally friendly bulkheads throughout the Southport Access Channel. These attributes have significantly reduced the project’s environmental impact from what was originally planned nearly 20 years ago.
The project is anticipated to create an estimated 4,700 total construction jobs and nearly 1,500 permanent direct jobs locally from the additional cargo capacity. The estimated cost is $374 million which will be paid with Port Everglades revenue generated through port user fees, federal appropriations and state grants. No local property taxes will be used for this project because Port Everglades is a self-funded enterprise of Broward County.