Florida Gov. Rick Scott pledged that he would ask the Florida legislature to include $14.7 million in funding for Port Everglades’ Southport Turning Notch project.
The new funds, which will bring the amount committed to the project to $71.4 million, will enable the port to more than double the length of the Southport Turning Notch extension and create at least five new berths.
“It’s refreshing to see how the state is supporting the port system here, given what we’ve seen in Washington over the last few years,” Steve Cernak, Port Everglades’ CEO and executive director, told JOC in an interview.
The new funding is part of a $35 million package the governor will seek next year for projects at three Florida ports, also including Port Canaveral and the Port of Tampa. Gov. Scott made the announcement today at the American Association of Port Authorities’ annual convention in Orlando, Fla.
The environmental permitting for the Turning Notch project, which is still in the design phase, is almost complete. As part of the environmental mitigation for the project, the port will have to plant mangrove seedlings in an area that will serve as a conservation preserve to replace twice as many mangroves as those that will be dug up during the construction of the Turning Notch.
“Once we’ve reached what the state calls ‘trending towards success status,’ we’ll be released to dig out what we have to for the Turning Notch,” Cernak said. He expects the project with all the new berths to be complete by the end of 2017.
The expansion of the Turning Notch is one of three projects underway at the port.
Florida East Coast Railway is building an intermodal container facility within the port’s secure zone at a cost of $53 million, of which the state loaned $300 million and donated 42.5 acres of land valued at $19 million.
“It’s on track for a scheduled opening next July,” Cernak said.
A third major project, the deepening of the Port Everglades’ channel from 42 feet to 48 feet, is stalled by the shutdown of the federal government at the moment. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a report in June that said the project would improve safety and lessen delays, allowing more cargo to move through the port. However, the study also acknowledged that there would be some inevitable environmental damage caused by the construction. The report was issued for comment before the corps could release its feasibility study evaluating the project’s cost-benefit ratio and whether to recommend that the project be funded.
“We continue to work with the corps on resolving the issues and working to get some sort of language in the Water Resources Development Act,” Cernak said. “We’re doing working to come up with languages that will allow us to advance the project.”