Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. House passed the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which will allow Port Everglades to advance expansion once it receives a go ahead from the Army Corps of Engineers in the form of a Chiefs Report. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week.
Today, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and representatives from Port Everglades, met with Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to get a progress report on the continuing feasibility study for the Port Everglades expansion project which will lead to this long-awaited Chief’s Report.
The meeting covered three key issues with the Port Everglades feasibility study: status of environmental review; economic analysis of the overall depth of the dredge; and the timeline for a completed Chief’s Report. Here is the current status:
- Environmental Review: The environmental review is complete. The expansion has cleared a critical hurdle with all relevant federal environmental agencies agreeing to the mitigation plan to offset any impacts the project will have.
- Overall Depth of the Dredge: The Army Corps is recommending a depth of 47 feet — one foot short of the Port’s desired minimum depth. The Corps agreed to revisit some of the assumptions made in the modeling. Should the Corps’ recommendation remain, the Port would have the option to “buy up” the additional foot, at an additional cost of about $10 million.
- Timeline: Acknowledging repeated delays, the Army Corps committed to doing everything possible to expedite a completed Chief’s Report ahead of the expected January 2015 timeline.
“The Florida delegation stands together in making sure our ports, including Port Everglades, are equipped for the expansion of the Panama Canal,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. “Today’s meeting was a positive step forward, and I will continue to monitor the work of the Army Corps until the project at Port Everglades is finalized and completed.”
“We need to get this project done for the bigger ships that will come from the Panama Canal expansion,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. “That’s going to create jobs and stimulate the local economy.”
“Progress on this expansion means lots of jobs for South Florida,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-22).
“I’m cautiously optimistic that the Army Corps is making progress on its feasibility study for the Port expansion project, but remaining issues must quickly be resolved – further delay is simply unacceptable,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23). “Port Everglades is a major economic engine for South Florida and the Port must be well positioned to meet the changing international transportation needs of the 21st century.”