Chief of Engineers signs Port Everglades report
Jacksonville, Fla. – The Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, signed the Chief’s Report for the Port Everglades navigation project June 26. The project includes deepening and widening the harbor to meet today’s and future shipping needs.
“The Chief’s signing of this report is a significant milestone for Port Everglades and reflects the efforts of many dedicated people to successfully address a multitude of complex issues,” said the Jacksonville District Commander, Col. Alan Dodd. “Their perseverance produced a quality report that will allow for the port and region’s economic growth while also balancing significant environmental concerns,” he said.
With the signing of the report, the Corps is certifying that the navigation project is environmentally sound and economically beneficial to the nation. The Chief’s Report will now go to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), and then to the Office of Management and Budget for review. After these reviews, the report is sent to Congress for future authorization.
The project plan underwent two rigorous external peer-reviews before it was unanimously approved by the Corps’ Civil Works Review Board Feb. 27.
The current configuration of the federal project dates back to the 1980s, making it difficult for the port to accommodate today’s larger container and tanker vessels. To meet the increasing demand of a growing global economy, the shipping industry has shifted to even larger, more efficient vessels. The Port Everglades project will accommodate existing and future vessel movements, resolve navigation restriction problems, and present opportunities for national economic development.
Following the release of the draft feasibility study in June 2013, the Corps continued consultation with state and federal agencies regarding the new endangered species coral listings, and refining the environmental mitigation and monitoring plans.
“Our modifications to the draft mitigation plan reflect a strong cooperative effort with NOAA National Marine Fisheries and state agencies to select a sound plan for unavoidable impacts to hardbottom and reef habitats,” said Corps Project Manager Cynthia Perez. Integrated in the plan are lessons learned from the Miami Harbor project; the Corps anticipates learning more in the future as monitoring and assessment continues.
The $35.6 million environmental mitigation plan includes creating five acres of artificial reef, relocating roughly 11,500 corals, out-planting 103,000 nursery raised corals to existing reef enhancement areas, and other mitigation and monitoring features.
Current plans include up-front mitigation for indirect effects from sedimentation and turbidity, as well as mitigation for impacts associated with potential movement of rubble below dredge depth, said Corps Biologist Terri Jordan-Sellers.
The planning, engineering and design phase is scheduled to start this year, subject to funding, and the Corps anticipates completion of this phase in two to three years. Construction of the project is subject to authorization and appropriations, and would likely take five years to complete.
For more information about Port Everglades and other Federal ports in Florida, go to www.saj.usace.army.mil and click ports in the right column.
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