The Army Corps of Engineers approved a dredging plan to make Port Everglades deeper and wider after almost 20 years of reviewing the project and its environmental impact.
To service larger cargo ships, Port Everglades would deepen its main channels from 44 to 48 feet and would deepen and widen a stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The project still requires funding from Congress to advance, but the port director, Steve Cernak, reportedly said Port Everglades will start immediately to design the project, using its own funds to do so.
The Corps of Engineers had been studying the project since 1996. Cernak told the Sun Sentinel that the design phase of the project would take two years and the construction phase another three years.
The project would cost $374 million and would create an estimated 4,700 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs. Together with the expansion of the Panama Canal, deepening and widening Port Everglades would make it a more competitive export destination for Asian companies.
The project’s environmental impact has stirred controversy because it would destroy almost 15 acres of coral reef along the entrance channel to Port Everglades.
Cernak said a key element of the project design work will be environmental compensation for the coral destruction, according to the Sun Sentinel.
In a prepared statement, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson said, “This will allow the port to accommodate the bigger ships that will be coming through the expanded Panama Canal. And that will mean jobs and economic growth for the area. That said, we need to continue to be vigilant in applying the lessons we learned from PortMiami,” which is dredging its main harbor channel from 42 to 50-52 feet. [Sun Sentinel] – Mike Seemuth