Ships are getting bigger, so they can carry more cargo in less time. This is critical in Florida, where so many more people (i.e. consumers) are now living that we surpassed New York to become the third highest populated state in the United States. And, let's not forget Florida's 95 million annual tourists and seasonal visitors who also purchase food, clothing and other goods shipped via ocean.
To meet these demands, Port Everglades needs deeper and wider channels so today's modern ship fleet can arrive here safely.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved an economic and environmental report, called the Chief of Engineers Report, which clears the way for the Port to begin the next phase leading to the deepening and widening of its channels, and allows the project to be included in federal legislation expected in 2016 that will authorize similar water and navigation-related projects.
Port Everglades already handles ships from Europe and South America that are too large to fit through today's Panama Canal, but the ships must be lightly loaded.
Timing for this project is essential as older fleets are being replaced with much larger ships and the Panama Canal is being expanded to accommodate these larger ships.
The goals 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.
Construction is anticipated to be completed by 2022, and is expected 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.