Miami-Dade County today announced that the contracting phase of its project to deepen PortMiami’s channel to minus 50 feet has begun with the solicitation of bids by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2013 and be completed in time for the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in early 2015.
"The Deep Dredge project is critical to the future growth of PortMiami," said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. "PortMiami will be one of only three U.S. Atlantic ports to be at the required -50 feet level in time to welcome the new generation of larger container cargo vessels arriving via the expanded Panama Canal."
PortMiami Director Bill Johnson said that a deeper channel will provide ships with a more efficient, reliable and safe navigational route into PortMiami. "As the closest port to the Panama Canal, PortMiami is well positioned to capture new trade opportunities," Johnson said, "and the deeper channel will enable the Port to double its cargo traffic over the next several years."
Johnson said that together with its state and federal partners, the Port is committed to upholding the highest environmental standards for the project. The dredge project includes the restoration of more than 16 acres of seagrass in northern Biscayne Bay and the creation of over nine acres of artificial reef. In order to minimize impact on existing resources, the Port’s mitigation measures include the relocation of hard coral colonies greater than 25 cm and those that are between 10 and 25 cm.Additionally, divers will be in the water adjacent to the project twice a week to monitor natural resources for turbidity and sedimentation effects before, during and after all dredging activities ensuring the highest environmental protection monitoring protocols outside of a national marine sanctuary.
"The Deep Dredge is one of the most important infrastructure improvements in the history of the Port," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. "It will provide a powerful economic boost to Miami-Dade County and create an estimated 30,000 jobs throughout the State of Florida."
Thanks to the pledge of $112 million from Governor Rick Scott and the State of Florida, the PortMiami Deep Dredge remains on schedule to open in sync with the expanded Panama Canal, helping transform Florida into a global logistics hub.
PortMiami is among America's busiest ports and recognized across the globe with the dual distinction of being the Cruise Capital of the World and the Cargo Gateway of the Americas. PortMiami contributes more than $18 billion annually to the South Florida economy and helps provide direct and indirect employment for more than 180,000. For more information please visit www.miamidade.gov/portmiami.