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Port Everglades mulls extra $9 million outlay to dredge to 48 feet August 11, 2014

By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel

7:20 p.m. EDT, August 7, 2014

Broward County’s Port Everglades will need to spend an extra $9 million if the seaport wants to host loaded supersized ships that will soon pass through an expanded Panama Canal, officials say.

A group within the Army Corps of Engineers is recommending the port deepen its channel to 47 feet.

But the port wants authorization for 48 feet to make sure the megaships can enter fully loaded.

The port can ask approval to dredge that extra foot — but at its own expense.

That extra foot costs $18 million. The port had expected to pay half that, with the U.S. government paying the rest. But without the Army Corps’ recommendation, the port would pay the full amount — or $9 million more than planned.

On Tuesday, the County Commission will discuss whether the port should spend that extra cash — an outlay advocates call well worth it for the added jobs and business that the larger ships will bring.

County Administrator Bertha Henry will suggest commissioners back the extra outlay to move on a key development project in the works with the Army Corps for nearly 18 years.

“Every time we get to a certain point, they move the goal posts,” Henry said in an interview Thursday. “The costs continue to escalate, so I say, ‘Let’s just move forward.'”

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