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Dania Beach dredging project to slow boaters

A $6.6 million dredging project will begin on the Dania Cutoff Canal on Sunday, and so will delays for boaters.

The dredging, to begin at Port Everglades and continue down the canal to the bridge at U.S. 1, will increase the water depth from 10 to 17 feet. The project, expected to continue through at least February 2013, is intended to make it easier and safer for large cargo ships and mega yachts to navigate the canal, said David Roach, executive director of the Florida Inland Navigation District.

But the dredging construction will force boaters to move through the canal at a slower pace than normal, as they will have to navigate around two large barges, said Roach. The barges will be hooked together, for a combined total width of about 80 feet.

“As we proceed with the dredging heading west, the canal gets narrower and narrower,” Roach said. And when the boaters reach the barges, they’ll have to wait to get around.

Work will take place daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. the barges will likely be moved out of the way for boaters to pass.

“Until we move one of those barges out of the way, people are not going to be able to get by,” Roach said.

However, before and after construction, and during those two breaks, boaters will be able to move around the canal without interruptions from the barges.

To assist boaters in navigating their way through the canal, the Florida Inland Navigation District will set up a hotline where boaters can call for real-time construction information, and the marine radio stations will also broadcast when the barges will be out of the way for boaters to get by.

“Boaters out there need to keep their radios on,” said Roach.

The Florida Inland Navigation District is funding 75 percent of the cost; Broward County and Dania Beach are each kicking in 12.5 percent.

Fort Lauderdale native Danielle Pelliccia, 46, uses the canal occasionally and has kept her boat, the Pearl, in the Dania marina since October 2011. Pelliccia says the delays are worth the improvements.

“Progress is awesome, and you just have to deal with it,” Pelliccia said.

The Florida Inland Navigation District also expects the project will be good for the economy.

According to a study it conducted in the area, the navigation district anticipates marine economic output to increase by up to $9 million a year as a result of the dredging, and about 70 jobs will be created because of the project, according to Roach.

South Florida resident Pedro Mont, who owns of a 10-foot Boston Whaler, has been in Miami since 1986, and thinks the dredging, and other projects meant to bring tourism to the area, can only be a good thing.

“Anytime there’s money in Florida, that’s not a bad deal,” Mont said.

Anyone with questions regarding the dredging can call 561-627-3386.