By David Volz

Port Everglades will see major construction projects.  Most of the expansion of the Port will take place in Hollywood.

During a recent meeting, the Broward County Commission approved a $437.5 million contract with Moss/ Kiewit, a managing contractor for development of the Southport Turning Notch Extension at Port Everglades. This is a major development at the port and will allow for up to five additional berths for cargo ships. The turn-around area for ships will be lengthened from 900 feet to 2,400 feet. This project will support more economic growth for the South Florida region. There will be the installation of new crane rails to allow for larger cranes.

Also, the Port is purchasing three low-profile Super Post-Panamax gantry cranes at $13.8 million each to meet demands from current customers and new services anticipated from the port’s multi-million-dollar expansion program. The Commission approved the $41.1 million crane purchase with the option to purchase an additional three cranes.

“This expansion is needed so that larger ships can come to Port Everglades and unload their cargo more quickly,” said Steven Cermak, CEO of Port Everglades. “Cargo shipping is very time sensitive and we don’t want to have ships waiting outside the port to unload their cargo. We always need to do things smarter.”

Increasing the amount of volume that can pass through the Port is an important goal. Most of the ships that arrive in the Port are container ships and the containers are placed onto trucks and trains and shipped throughout the United States. “The port industry is very competitive and we want more cargo and cruise ships to come to Port Everglades. We need this expansion to keep our port relevant,” said Cermak. “We have to think 15 years or more ahead. When this project is complete, we will be able to handle larger capacity ships.”

The Port needs the additional five berths to support the population growth in South Florida. These larger vessels will be able to bring in more cargo. The larger cranes will mean that ships will be unloaded faster. The work will include adding the berthing spaces and deepening the channel so it can accommodate larger container ships, according to Cermak.

Also, Cruise Terminal 25 will be completely renovated at a cost of more than $100 million. This is the terminal used by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. It will handle the new larger ships that are considered very luxurious. The new terminal will make the boarding experience more efficient and seamless.

“Renovating Cruise Terminal 25 was already part of our Master/Vision Plan, and was scheduled to begin this year,” said Cermak. “Giving preferential berthing rights to Royal Caribbean allows us to build a facility that meets their expectations for the new generations of larger cruise ships and for the new Celebrity Edge, which is scheduled to homeport at Port Everglades beginning in December 2018.”

Also, the Port has been involved in a significant environmental project. About 70,000 mangroves were planted on 16.5 acres of land adjacent to a protected area of the Port.

This project means lots of good jobs for South Florida residents. The construction work will generate about 3,000 short term construction jobs. Once the work is complete, the enlarged Port will create about 5,000 direct and indirect jobs for area residents.

Port Everglades is not funded by County property taxes. The Port is funded by user fees. Operating Revenues for Fiscal Year 2016 were more than $162 million which is considered profitable. It is under the Broward County government and major expenditures must be approved by the Broward County Commission.