Federal officials have given the go-ahead for South Florida’s Port Everglades to begin pre-construction of its USD374 million expansion project to deepen its channels from 12.8 to 15.8 m (42-50 feet).
The port announced on 26 June that the US Army Corps’ Chief of Engineers Report also allows the project to be included in a 2016 federal funding bill that will authorize similar navigation projects.
Port Everglades, a main seaport for petroleum products and the 12th largest US container port, is also among the world’s top three cruise ports.
The main channel’s current depth, however, has been deemed inadequate and unsafe for the growing number and size of tankers and containerships currently calling at the port.
The project was authorized by the US Congress in 1996. During the planning stages the port had been pressured to improve on its plans to mitigate environmental damage caused by the deepening. The approved plans includes planting approximately 103,000 new nursery-raised corals in 7.3ha (18 acres) of existing reef areas and relocating approximately 11,500 existing corals to create 0.8 ha (2 acres) of artificial reef.
On the US East Coast, only the ports of New York, Baltimore, and Virginia have berths dredged to 15.8m. The ports of Savannah, Charleston, and Miami are in the process of dredging to accommodate larger post-Panamax vessels.