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Rail News: Intermodal

Port Everglades, S.C. Ports Authority receive key approvals for expansions


Port Everglades in Broward County, Fla., last week 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.

The report also allows the port project to be included in federal legislation expected in 2016 that will authorize similar water and navigation projects, port officials said in a press release.

The project is designed to enable passage of 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 the Panama Canal expansion proceeds and older fleets are being replaced with much larger ships, officials said.

The project involves deepening 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 deepening and widening the Entrance Channel and parts of the Intracoastal Waterway so that cargo ships can safely pass docked cruise ships.

The project study received congressional authorization in 1996. The signed and approved Chief of Engineers Report now allows Port Everglades to move forward to the preconstruction engineering and design phase.

"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. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) "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."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Review Board also approved the final integrated feasibility report and environmental impact statement for the Port of Charleston's Post-45 harbor deepening project, a notable step that ensures the project is on schedule to receive its Chief’s Report in September, port officials said in a press release.

"Once deepening to 52 feet is realized, Charleston will offer the deepest harbor on the East Coast with the capability to serve fully-loaded post-Panamax vessels 24 hours a day,” said Jim Newsome, president and chief executive officer of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA). "Our deepening project, coupled with significant SCPA investments in landside infrastructure and terminal capacity, supports SCPA cargo volume growth more than twice the national port average."

The final report has been approved for a 30-day review for state and resource agencies. The Chief of Engineers Report is expected to be signed in September and sent to Congress, with construction to begin following the preconstruction, engineering and design phase.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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