FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – More than fifteen years in the works, ground has finally been broken at Port Everglades for the new Eller Drive Overpass.
The $42.5 million project calls for a four lane bridge overpass on Eller Drive, which is the primary entrance to the port, to allow for a train rail access to the Southport container yard, which is the main container holding area at the port. The overpass will allow cars and trucks unrestricted travel to and from the port’s cruise and container terminals.
“It will allow cargo traffic to be directly lifted off of cargo ships, dropped on to rail cars and can go directly out to service the state,” said project administrator Ido Shimony.
Also in attendance at the ground breaking ceremony was Governor Rick Scott.
“Because of this project, traffic connections will be greatly improved between the port and I-595 and between the port and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport,” said Scott.
The project also involves the widening, realignment, and construction of service roads parallel to the overpass. The overpass will be built in two stages with a completion date of February 2013.
Another plus from the overpass and port rail line will be that it will ease traffic congestion in the area. Port officials say the F.E.C. rail yard at State Road 84 and Andrews Avenue normally causes traffic to back up. Once the port rail line is up and running, that should change.
“People will start noticing that they’re stuck in traffic a lot less when they are over on Andrews Avenue and State Road 84,” said Port Everglades spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy.
Once completed, Kennedy said the port will be the only one in the country where international and domestic freight will have access to a rail line from the same port.
“I want to commend all of our partners for working together to provide this important transportation link,” said state Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad in a statement. “These infrastructure improvements are what connect people to businesses and that’s what makes the economy go.”
Scott said with the expansion of the Port Everglades and the Port of Miami, Florida will be in a great financial position.
“We’re going to be the most important state in the country for ports. This part of the state, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, is going to do extremely well. We have the rail system, now we have the ports; it’s going to create a lot of jobs,” said Scott.
Port Everglades is the 3rd largest cruise port in the world and the 11th largest container port in America.