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Deal With Environmental Groups Clears Way For “Big Dredge”

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(Photo Credit: CBS4) Port of Miami

(Photo Credit: CBS4) Port of Miami

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A dredging plan considered critical for the economic future of PortMiami will be allowed to move forward if Miami-Dade commissioners approve an agreement satisfying the objections of organizations who wanted the plan blocked.

The Tropical Audubon Society, Biscayne Bay Waterkeepers, and a citizen petition asked to delay the dredging project, citing environmental concerns.

The petitions put the county at risk of losing finding and delaying the project, needed to ready the port for a new larger class of cargo ships.

The project, called Deep Dredge, will bring the depth of the port channels down to 50 feet.

The petitions to the could have caused the state not to issue a permit to the Army Corps of Engineers for the dredge, but after a meeting with the groups in which the county agreed to fund a number of other environmental projects, the petitions were withdrawn.

The county has also agreed to donate money to the environmental groups for projects intended to benefit the bay.

The money will be used for for mangrove and wetland restoration at Oleta River State Park in North Miami; restoration of coastal dunes and plants along the north point of Virginia Key and the improvement of shoal marker and signage systems in the north part of the Bay, among other projects.

“The agreement provides additional funding for important environmental projects,” said Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez in a statement, “while at the same time allowing for the timely completion of the dredge project, which is critical to our efforts to grow our container cargo traffic and create thousands of new, well-paying jobs in our community.”

The agreement will go before the Board of County Commissioners on May 1 for final approval.

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