'Major milestone' for Port Everglades dredging project

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Washington, DC, February 9, 2016 | comments

SUN SENTINEL

'Major milestone' for Port Everglades dredging project

By Paul Owers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday that it has completed its final review for a long-discussed plan to deepen and widen the channel at Port Everglades.

The agency said a report was sent to Congress Jan. 29, and the project will compete with other ventures for funding in future budgets.

The deepening, in the works for nearly two decades, will allow the Broward County port to host massive cargo ships, increase business volume and create more jobs.

Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca, who has been working closely with the Army Corps, said the final review deals primarily with how the work will be funded.

The completed review is a "major milestone," Port Everglades chief executive Steve Cernak said in a statement.

"As vessels continue getting larger, deeper and wider channels are needed for safe passage and to reduce ship traffic congestion," he said.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach have said the renovations are essential for the port and the South Florida economy.

The Army Corps said roughly $2.90 is earned for each dollar spent in improvements over the course of the project. That translates to an average annual return of more than $31 million, the agency said.

The county and the federal government will share in the estimated $381 million cost.

Broward officials say the project will deepen the port's main navigational channels from 42 feet to 48 feet. It also will deepen and widen the entrance channel and parts of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The upgrades are expected to create more than 2,200 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs from the increased cargo volume.

LaMarca said he hopes the work can begin in 2017. He estimates it will take about three years to complete.

The deepening of PortMiami, the first such project in the Southeast, was finished in September.

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