Dispute remains over who pays for maintenance costs for federal channel.
The $35 million harbor widening and deepening project at Port Canaveral to allow larger ships greater safety margins for sailing in and out of the port is scheduled to begin next month with completion in November 2014. The project to widen Port Canaveral’s 400-feet wide harbor by 100 feet and deepen the entrance by two feet to 46 feet cleared the final two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting hurdles last week.
“The Canaveral Port Authority’s decision to utilize alternative federal processes that allow seaports to self-fund required studies and permits allowed us to arrive at this critical juncture 10 years earlier than taking the traditional route,” said Port Canaveral CEO John E. Walsh. “However, this is a bittersweet moment because the Army Corps of Engineers has deferred approval to fund maintenance dredging of the harbor via a Section 204f process after we complete the deepening and widening project. Once the still-pending WRDA bill is passed, the Army Corps will be required to fund dredging costs, but there is no guarantee the WRDA will pass or keep all provisions in place.”
“This deferred approval could cost the Canaveral Port Authority an unbudgeted $1.3 million per year for future maintenance of the harbor,” Walsh added. “Since this cost always has been the responsibility of the federal government, we are confident with meetings set in Washington next week, we can make legislative and administrative progress toward a resolution. Congressman Bill Posey has been a continued ally of Port Canaveral to get this project approval and is helping with the last Section 204f pieces, as well.”
The uplands work at the Canaveral Harbor entrance will begin next month followed by cutting the land and building a retaining wall during the next 6 months and conclude with dredging at the widening for the next three months. This portion of the project will be ready in November 2014 for the arrival of added large ships. Channel deepening of the remainder of the three-and-a-half mile length will continue through November 2015.
“The support the Port Authority received from Florida Governor Rick Scott and the $24.4 million in state funding for the Port’s channel project, as well as the backing of our federal congressional delegation, has been invaluable,” Port Authority Commission Chairman Tom Weinberg said. “They understand the importance of this project for the economic benefit of Brevard County and all of Central Florida.”