BROWARD COUNTY, FL - Broward County's Port Everglades today received a signed Chief of Engineers Report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that clears the way for the Port to begin the next phase of deepening and widening its channels, and allows the project to be included in federal legislation expected in 2016 that will authorize similar water and navigation-related projects.
"After almost two decades of study and research, we are confident that the Corps has developed a plan that keeps Port Everglades competitive globally so that jobs are sustained and created locally," said Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan. "The plan also uses innovative solutions to address valid environmental concerns that have been raised by environmental stakeholders."
"Port Everglades is a giant economic engine for South Florida. The port must modernize and expand or the new current day cargo ships will pass us by - taking with them thousands of new jobs and over $30 million of economic impact each year," said U.S. Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-22). "Thanks to the hard work of Broward County leaders, the entire Florida Congressional delegation, and now with the stamp of approval from the Army Corps, this critical project takes a giant leap forward."
The project is designed to enable safe passage of deep draft Post-Panamax cargo ships, which are too large to fit through today's Panama Canal. Port Everglades already handles Post-Panamax ships from Europe and South America, but the ships must be lightly loaded, which is inefficient, especially as older fleets are being replaced with much larger ships and the Panama Canal is being expanded.
Main features of the project are to deepen the main navigational channels from 42 feet to 48 feet (plus 1-foot required and another 1-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 study received Congressional authorization in 1996. The signed and approved Chief's Report now allows Port Everglades to move forward to the Pre-Construction Engineering and Design phase.
"Port Everglades is a vital part of our community and this is a big step towards meeting our community's needs and keeping our port an economic powerhouse for the 21st century," said U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23). "I applaud Rep. Bill Shuster for his persistence in getting the water resources bill passed last year, and am confident that he and Senator Barbara Boxer will work tirelessly to ensure that the bill is passed in 2016 and includes the Port Everglades harbor project."
A key environmental component of the approved plan includes planting approximately 103,000 new nursery-raised corals in 18 acres of existing reef areas, and relocating approximately 11,500 existing corals to create 2 acres of artificial reef, and create 3 acres of artificial reef habitat for natural recruitment which will replace nearly 15 acres of existing hard-bottom reef habitat. 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 natural underwater environment is a priority for Port Everglades. It is critical to the Port that the mitigation plan include progressive approaches coupled with those that have a proven track record for replenishing and enhancing sensitive reef habitat," said Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director Steven Cernak. "I want to credit the Corps, the National Marine Fisheries Service and a multitude of environmental organizations for going back to the drawing board several times to develop an innovative approach to reef mitigation that will put Broward County in the forefront of environmental research and development."
In addition, the mitigation plan 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.
The project is anticipated to create an estimated 4,700 total construction jobs and nearly 1,500 permanent direct jobs locally from the additional cargo capacity. The estimated cost is $374 million which will be paid with Port Everglades revenue generated through port user fees, federal appropriations and state grants. No local property taxes will be used for this project because Port Everglades is a self-funded enterprise of Broward County.
At the crossroads of north-south and east-west trade, Broward County's Port Everglades is Florida's leading container port, handling more than one million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, the industry standard measurement for container volumes) and serving as a gateway to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Located within the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Dania Beach, Florida, Port Everglades is in the heart of one of the world's largest consumer regions, including a constant flow of visitors and up to a combined 110 million residents and seasonal visitors within a 500-mile radius. Port Everglades has direct access to the interstate highway system and the newly opened 43-acre Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) intermodal hub, and is closer to the Atlantic Shipping Lanes than any other southeastern U.S. port. Ongoing capital improvements and expansion will ensure that Port Everglades can continue to handle future growth in container traffic. A world-class cargo handling facility, Port Everglades serves as an ideal point of entry and departure for products shipped around the world.
DATE: June 26, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Ellen Kennedy, Assistant Director, Port Everglades Business Development Division/Communications
PHONE: 954-468-3508; 954-868-0220 (cell)