The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued the permit allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with the deepening of PortMiami's channel to -50 feet. The project will be put to bid this summer with construction expected to start in early 2013 and is scheduled to be completed at the same time the expanded Panama Canal opens.
"The Deep Dredge is critical to our future growth," said Port Director Bill Johnson. "PortMiami will be one of only three U.S. Atlantic ports to be at -50 feet when the expanded Panama Canal opens."
The deeper depth will allow PortMiami to accommodate new, larger Post-Panamax vessels that will be traversing the Canal. As the closest U.S. deepwater port to Panama, PortMiami expects to benefit from new trade opportunities with Asian markets.
As part of the dredging program, extensive environmental protection protocols have been put in place including a full-time environmental manager to provide oversight during all dredging activities. The project will utilize the same extensive resource and sedimentation monitoring protocols as established for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, making it the first Florida port dredging project to implement the highest environmental protection monitoring protocols outside of a national marine sanctuary.
All hard coral colonies greater than 25 cm and up to 1300 hard coral colonies between 10 and 25 cm will be relocated, 16.6 acres of new sea grass beds will be created, and 9.28 acres of artificial reef will be created as part of our commitment to minimize impacts to existing resources.
"This project meets the highest standards for environmental protection," Johnson said.
"We are committed to a safe and environmentally sound project that ensures the protection of Biscayne Bay and the surrounding ecosystem."
For more information about PortMiami please visit: www.miamidade.gov/portofmiami.