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Port Everglades gets green light to deepen channels

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Channel widening means that larger cargo ships can pass safely by docked cruise ships
Port Everglades has received federal authorization for the US Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with a plan to deepen and widen navigation channels.

The approval came as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, signed into law Dec. 16 by President Barack Obama. The project, currently in the preconstruction engineering and design phase, can now proceed through the permitting and federal funding processes. It 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 Thursday at Port Everglades to commend progress on the seaport's project.

'This is a bipartisan effort to make our navigation channels safer, globally competitive and environmentally progressive,' Port Everglades chief executive and port director Steven Cernak said. He applauded the Congressional Delegation for making this project a priority and recognizing the community's needs.

Port Everglades received authorization for more than $335m in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act earlier this month. The new legislation allows the port to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal and receive the larger, neo-Panamax cargo ships.

The project addresses safe shipping requirements as older cargo fleets are replaced with much 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.

Key features are to deepen the main navigational channels from 42 feet to 48 feet (plus one-foot required and another one-foot allowable overdepth for a total of 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.

The project addresses environmental concerns and will use innovative approaches for coral restoration. Funding will be shared among federal appropriations, revenues generated through Port Everglades customer fees and grants from the state of Florida.

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