MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – As part of the Obama administrations efforts to speed up public works projects across the country during a weak economy, they’ve announced they’ve accelerated their work on port projects in Miami, Jacksonville and three cities.

On Thursday the administration announced that they were expediting federal permits for deepening PortMiami and a feasibility study for dredging Jacksonville’s port.

“This is wonderful news for the entire state of Florida,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “These projects have been in the works for years, and I’m glad we have a President who understands the value of them becoming a reality. President Obama is right – we can’t wait on these important initiatives that will boost our economy now.

The Army Corps is working with PortMiami to deepen the channel at the port from its current depth of 42 feet to a depth of 50 feet. Once completed, the port will be able to accommodate larger cargo vessels and other ships.

The deepening project of the navigation channel is expected to be complete by the end of the year. The dredging is expected to be complete by spring of 2015, just in time to be the first port along the eastern seaboard to receive the larger cargo ships that will begin shipping goods through an expanded Panama Canal.

“Miami-Dade County has been ahead of the curve in making major infrastructure improvements to its seaport, most notably the deepening of PortMiami’s channel to -50 feet, which will allow for the largest cargo ships in the world to dock at our port,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “PortMiami will be the only U.S. East Coast Port, south of Norfolk, Va., to be at minus-50 feet when the expanded Panama Canal opens in early 2015.”

In Jacksonville, the Army Corps of Engineers has previously said it expected to complete a feasibility study in 2014 for deepening the channel. The administration announced today that it will fast-track the study so that it is completed by April 2013.

Other ports to receive improvements are: Charleston, Savannah, and the Port of New York and New Jersey.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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