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PORT OF EVERGLADES CONTINUES STUDIES DURING PED PHASE FOR DEEPENING PROJECT; PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD OPEN THROUGH MARCH

The Port of Everglades announced earlier this year that it was in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ongoing efforts to continue surveys as part of the environmental process for the navigation improvement projects. The Corps is conducting studies during a two-year preconstruction, engineering and design (PED) phase, which will continue into 2018.

The port has been vocal about keeping the public informed about the project and ensuring “the best practices in environmental stewardship,” it said in a January 24 statement.

“Port Everglades sees this due diligence as valuable information gathering, and we are dedicated to a rigorous, open and inclusive process that is based on state of the art science and engineering. We have and will continue to take the steps needed to ensure that the approach to the Port expansion incorporates lessons learned from past projects to help protect the marine environment and our region’s most important natural resources,” the statement said.

In 2016, local critics in Florida accused the Corps Jacksonville District of not updating documents relating to the Port of Everglades deepening project to reflect information gained from the Port Miami deepening project. Local critics also questioned the environmental protection plan for the Port Miami coral relocation program.

The Jacksonville District said those critics had overstated the extent and degree of the effects of the project, citing its successful environmental protection plan, which was done along with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The Corps also disputed claims that Port Miami findings were not included in the documents for the Port of Everglades project. The March 2015 Port Everglades Final Feasibility Report and the May 2015 Environmental Impact Statement include information related to coral reef mitigation. The Corps said numerous agencies – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, NMFS, EPA and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – will jointly develop the final environmental monitoring plan.

An open comment period for the public opened last September and ran through March 24. The Corps Jacksonville District and Port Everglades hosted two scoping meetings on February 22 at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m., at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.

Congress authorized the navigation improvement project in the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. The 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act allowed Broward County to finance the Jacksonville District’s work and receive future reimbursement. Funds received from the county allowed the Corps to start the PED phase.

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