Port Everglades moves closer to being ‘big-ship ready’ with $29M project

Congress pushes port’s Intracoastal Waterway project forward

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Port Everglades, the 12th leading container port in the country, is moving forward with a $29.1 million upgrade that is part of a series of projects to adapt to the world’s largest cargo ships that have been able to transit the Panama Canal since its expansion.

The project will expand parts of the Intracoastal Waterway, so cargo ships are able to transit to and from the southern part of the port. It also contributes to part of the cost of building a new facility for the U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale.

“This station ... has been there for 45 years, and it has been a rough 45 years, and we have used it and abused it and we are more than happy to get a new one,” said Lt. Derek Wallin, commanding officer of the station.

The dredging and widening project has been talked about for decades. Congress approved part of it in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the design phase. Recently, Congress allowed the port to move forward with the USACE fiscal year 2020 work plan.

“It is truly remarkable and unacceptable, quite frankly, how long this took,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said, adding that the project is projected to create 2,200 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.

Despite, the delays the port has been making progress. In 2017, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners approved the $500 million Southport Turning Notch Expansion, or STNE, construction. Workers broke ground June 2018 and the historic project is set to be completed in 2022.

The Port Everglades' Master/Vision Plan 2018 (Courtesy of Port Everglades)

“There are many more steps to go where we’re at that point where we have that 50 feet of water that we need to be able to compete in today’s economy and today’s world where the ships continue to get bigger," said Glenn Wiltshire, Port Everglades acting chief executive and port director.

The port’s expansion projects have the support of Broward County Mayor Dale V.C. Holness and Gov. Ron DeSantis and the bi-partisan support of Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and from Representatives Wasserman-Schultz, Ted Deutsch, Alcee Hastings, Frederica Wilson, Lois Frankel and Mario Diaz-Balart.

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.