Port Everglades Authorized to Deepen and Widen Channels
The passage and signing of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act has had immediate ramifications for Port Everglades, Florida, as the Port Everglades Navigation Improvements Project received authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with deepening and widening the port’s navigation channels.
The project is currently in the preconstruction engineering and design phase, and can now proceed through the permitting and federal funding processes. The project is anticipated to create an estimated 2,200 construction jobs and nearly 1,500 permanent direct jobs locally resulting from additional cargo capacity.
The Broward County Congressional Delegation joined local leaders at Port Everglades to commend progress on the seaport’s project.
“This is a bi-partisan effort to make our navigation channels safer, globally competitive and environmentally progressive,” said Port Everglades chief executive and port director Steven Cernak.
“The WIIN Act is a victory for South Florida’s economy, giving the green light to federal funding for the Port Everglades expansion,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat, who represents Florida’ twenty-second congressional district. “It’s a shining example of what we can accomplish when we work in a bipartisan manner across the public and private sectors, and local and state levels.”
The Port Everglades Navigation Improvements Project addresses safe shipping requirements as older cargo fleets are being replaced with larger ships that require wider channels and deeper water. Larger cargo ships currently arrive from Europe and South America lightly loaded and can experience difficulty maneuvering safely when other ships are berthed in some of the port’s narrower channel areas. The project also addresses environmental concerns and will utilize innovative approaches to coral restoration. Funding for the project will be shared between federal appropriations, revenues generated through Port Everglades customer fees, and grants from the State of Florida.
The main features of the project are to deepen the main navigational channels from 42 feet to 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.
A key environmental component of the approved plan includes outplanting 103,000 new nursery-raised corals in 18 acres of existing reef areas, and creating roughly five acres of artificial reef by relocating approximately 11,500 corals. At Broward County’s recommendation, the Corps and the National Marine Fisheries Services developed a blended plan that includes traditional and more innovative approaches to environmental mitigation.
The mitigation plan also includes restoring seagrasses and mangroves in West Lake Park, and building environmentally friendly bulkheads throughout the Southport Access Channel. These pioneering attributes have significantly reduced the project’s environmental impact from what was originally planned nearly 20 years ago.
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