The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved an economic and environmental report that clears the way for Port Everglades to begin the next phase leading to deepening and widening its channels.

According to the port, the report allows the project to be included in federal legislation expected in 2016 that will authorize similar water and navigation-related projects.

Attending a presentation to take place at Cruise Terminal 18 on Tuesday, July 7, will be members of South Florida's Congressional Delegation, including Congresswomen Lois Frankel (FL-22) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), joining local leaders, to describe the project and next steps needed to move this project forward.

Port Everglades said it needs to deepen its channels and widen the entrance channel and some narrow areas along the Intracoastal Waterway to handle newer cargo ships that are already coming to the port light loaded from Europe and South America. Timing for this project is essential as older fleets are being replaced with much larger ships and the Panama Canal is being expanded to accommodate these larger ships.

The report enables the port to move forward with pre-construction engineering and design. However, there are more steps, especially at the federal level, before construction can begin.

The Port has been working with the US Army Corps of Engineers since 1996 to complete the required economic and environmental studies. At Broward County's recommendation, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Services developed a "blended" environmental mitigation plan that includes traditional and more innovative approaches.

The project is important to economic stability as it is expected to create an estimated 4,700 total construction jobs and nearly 1,500 permanent direct jobs locally from the additional cargo capacity.

The estimated cost is $374 million, which will be paid with Port Everglades revenue generated through port user fees, federal appropriations and state grants. No local property taxes will be used for this project because Port Everglades is a self-funded enterprise of Broward County.