Friday, June 28, 2013

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Port Everglades dredge reaches major milestone

Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its draft feasibility report approving the deepening and widening of Port Everglades' channels to accommodate deep draft post-Panamax cargo ships and facilitate global trade at the South Florida port.

Friday's release of the Corp's Feasibility Report with Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Port Everglades Harbor begins the official 45-day comment period in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The total cost for deepening and widening Port Everglades' navigational channels is estimated at $313 million, and will be funded by a combination of federal funds, port user fees and possibly state funds. No local tax dollars will be used for this project.

"This has been an exhaustive study process, 17 years, for the Corps to ensure that this project is economically and environmentally sound. The fact is that Port Everglades must have deeper water for the newer, larger generation of cargo ships that are replacing the older fleet worldwide, including those transiting the Panama Canal," said Steven Cernak, chief executive and port director of Port Everglades.

The total project will deepen Port Everglades' channel from 42 feet to 48 feet and widen the channel entrance so that cargo ships can safely pass cruise ships docked along the Intracoastal Waterway inside the Port. When constructed, the project will include an additional two feet of allowable over-depth for a total of 50 feet.

"The combination of our Port's three priority cargo projects - deepening, adding new berths and building an on-port freight rail facility - will create 7,000 new jobs locally and support another 135,000 jobs statewide when at full capacity in 2027," said Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs. "The Corps has studied environmental impacts for the project extensively, and has explored various mitigation alternatives. We applaud the decision to move forward so that Port Everglades can continue to be the economic powerhouse it has always been in South Florida."

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