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American Shipper

Port of Palm Beach revives channel study

Port of Palm Beach revives channel study

The Port of Palm Beach is reviving a study that will assess the need to expand the port's shipping channel and turning basin.

   The Palm Beach Harbor Navigation Feasibility Study was first set for 2005, but was but on hold because of a lack of federal funds. The study is being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the port acting as the local sponsor.

   The port and the Corps of Engineers recently completed a new cost sharing agreement for the project, and the study is ready to proceed.

   Port officials note the long-term success of the port will depend on access via the ship channel, which had depths established some 40 years ago. The current depth is 32 feet — good for the Caribbean trade vessels that make up most of the commercial vessel traffic — but the port would need more depth to handle larger vessels. The size of the turning basin also limits the length of ship calling port terminals.

   'The port is increasingly losing business opportunities as a result of channel limitations,' a summation published by the port said. 'The study will analyze alternatives to improve access for the existing fleet and also allow for increased vessel length and draft, while avoiding or minimizing environmental impacts.'

   The revived study is expected to continue through 2008. A completed version of the study, with an environmental impact statement, is not expected until early 2010.

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