A month after reaching a legal settlement that cleared the way for the controversial $2 billion PortMiami expansion plan, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued a permit that will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge and deepen in and around Government Cut by up to 50 feet.
The project will be put out for bids this summer, with construction expected to begin in early 2013.
Port expansion advocates argue the deeper depth will allow PortMiami to be more competitive by accommodating larger vessels that are expected to make use of the new and wider Panama Canal when that project is completed some time next year.
Dredgers will follow protocols set by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which means all hard coral colonies greater than 25 centimeters and up to 1,300 hard coral colonies between 10 and 25 centimeters will be relocated, 16.6 acres of new sea grass beds will be created, and more than nine acres of artificial reef will be built.
Last month, environmentalists who had spent two years arguing that blasting and digging in the port’s main channel would leave Biscayne Bay scarred, agreed to drop an administrative challenge after Miami-Dade County said it would spend $2.3 million on restoration and to monitor the project.