• ITVI.USA
    15,462.460
    -34.260
    -0.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.752
    0.009
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.670
    -0.440
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  • OTVI.USA
    15,437.200
    -29.190
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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    0.000
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
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    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
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    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
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  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
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  • WAIT.USA
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  • ITVI.USA
    15,462.460
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  • OTLT.USA
    2.752
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  • OTRI.USA
    20.670
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  • OTVI.USA
    15,437.200
    -29.190
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
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  • WAIT.USA
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American ShipperIntermodal

Port Everglades deepening project clears another hurdle

U.S. Army Corps completed its draft environmental impact and feasibility study.

   A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ review board on Friday approved the final environmental and economic feasibility studies for deepening and widening Port Everglades’ navigation channels and turning basin. 
   The $374 million project would deepen the entrance channel from 42 feet to 50 feet, allowing the South Florida port to compete for businesses from the largest container vessels calling along the East Coast. Vessels up to 14,000 TEUs will be able to reach the East Coast from Asia once the expanded section of the Panama Canal opens to traffic next year, although many analysts expect the workhorse vessels on that trade lane to initially be in the 9,000 TEU range. The extra depth, however, will enable vessels to transit 50-foot harbors fully loaded. Port Everglades already handles post-Panamax vessels from Europe that currently carry less cargo to sit higher in the water.
   This latest step paves the way for issuance of the Chief of Engineers Report recommending the project to Congress for construction authorization.
   Although Congress has yet to authorize the project, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act signed by President Obama last summer includes a provision allowing projects with pending Chief’s Reports to be pre-authorized, so local sponsors can pay for engineering and design, and be eligible for reimbursement or credit against project costs if Congress authorizes the project in a future water resources bill.
   The managers amendment to permit pre-engineering work was considered crucial by Broward County and Florida officials because otherwise the project would have been held up until Congress passed the next reauthorization bill, which is not expected for a minimum of two years. Local officials would then still need to go through the appropriations process to get funding, which is parceled out over several years.
   Port Everglades officials originally sought a 50-foot channel to accommodate next-generation container ships and large petroleum tankers, but an Army Corps cost-benefit analysis determined that the national economic gain for businesses and consumers, consistent with environmental protection, was optimized at a channel depth of 47 feet. The port authority’s preferred option is to expand the dredging project to 48 feet, which would give the port an effective depth of 50 feet because an extra foot of over depth is required to be built into the project design, and another foot of margin is allowed under Army Corps rules.
   The Army Corps has said it will approve Port Everglades’ plan as long as it pays the difference in cost. In August, the Broward County Board of Commissioners voted to pay an additional $18 million for the locally preferred deepening option. 
   Army Corps officials say that incorporating the local preferred plan will only require an additional six weeks to complete.
   State and federal oversight agencies now have 30 days to submit comments on the draft Chief’s Report. Port Everglades said the final report is anticipated to be issued by the end of May.
   “The future of this economic powerhouse depends on being able to keep up with Florida’s growing population, larger ships, and competition from international and domestic ports that are expanding and modernizing their infrastructure. Any delay to the expansion risks the new larger freight ships contracting with other ports, passing us by and taking thousands of jobs with them,” Rep. Lois Frankel, D-FL, whose district includes Port Everglades, said in a statement issued by the port authority. Congresswoman Frankel attended the meeting in Washington along with staff from the South Florida congressional delegation and Richard Biter, assistant secretary for intermodal systems development for the Florida Department of Transportation.
   The project’s estimated cost has increased by $21 million since August, due to extra environmental mitigation costs, rising prices for engineering work and requiring a larger contingency account, according to port authority officials. The estimated cost was $313 million in the summer of 2013.
   The federal government will pay for half the project’s cost under the current formula for sharing dredging expenses associated with harbor expansion.
   Last year, Port Everglades handled a record 1 million TEUs during its fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

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