South Florida’s Port Everglades has secured approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers to start the next phase of its channel deepening and widening programme.
The chief of engineers report received will also enable the project to be included in federal legislation in 2016, which will authorise similar water and navigation-related projects.
The expansion aims to provide safe passage for deep draft Post-Panamax cargo ships through the channels.
Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan said: "After almost two decades of study and research, we are confident that the corps has developed a plan that keeps Port Everglades competitive globally so that jobs are sustained and created locally.
"The plan also uses innovative solutions to address valid environmental concerns that have been raised by environmental stakeholders."
Port Everglades currently handles Post-Panamax ships from Europe and South America, but only lightly loaded vessels.
As the new Panama Canal expansion will allow the large Post-Panamax to enter the canal, this new project will support the port in serving more vessels.
The project will see the deepening of the main navigational channels from 42ft to 48ft. It will also deepen and widen the entrance channel and parts of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Moreover, the latest phase of the programme will see the restoring of seagrasses and mangroves in West Lake Park, and the construction of environmentally friendly bulkheads throughout the Southport Access Channel.
The estimated cost of the programme is $374m and it will be paid with Port Everglades revenue generated through port user fees, federal appropriations and state grants.