For Full Story: Florida Today
Article By: Dave Berman
Port Canaveral will be getting more than $16 million in federal money for two key projects designed to help replenish sand on nearby beaches, as well as keep the port channel accessible for cruise and cargo ships.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated:
$14.76 million for the Canaveral Harbor Sand Bypass Project that will help replenish sand on beaches stretching from the port’s Jetty Park to Cape Canaveral.
$1.47 million for maintenance of the port’s harbor and the Canaveral Locks.
More money for the port also may be on the way through a separate federal program.
Canaveral Port Authority commissioners say they are pleased that the federal funding has come through.
“It makes a difference for tourists and citizens and the port,” said Canaveral Port Authority Secretary/Treasurer Tom Weinberg. The funds are “really important to the economic base of Brevard County.”
Canaveral Port Authority Chairman Wayne Justice said members of the Central Florida delegation to Congress worked with the port to make sure Army Corps of Engineers officials were aware of the importance of these projects for the port.
“It’s helping take care of our transportation infrastructure,” Justice said. “All of that is positive.”
Sand bypass project: According to the port, a 2002 U.S. Court of Federal Claims agreement requires that the Corps of Engineers schedule the bypass project roughly every six years. However, the bypass project had not been funded by the corps since 2009.
The just-approved sand bypass project will take about 60 days and will be done sometime between Nov. 15 and April 30 to avoid turtle nesting season.
A mix of sand and water will be transported through a special submerged pipeline from an area north of the port’s channel to the area from Jetty Park to Cape Canaveral.
About 1 million cubic yards of sand will be moved for this project.
The Port Canaveral Sand Bypass Project began in 1995, after the port’s north jetty was lengthened and tightened to trap sand and prevent it from flowing into the navigation channel.
This interruption of the natural southerly sand flow is estimated to cause sand losses of about 156,000 cubic yards a year on the beaches south of the inlet.
To offset this loss of sand and maintain a healthy shoreline, about 3.5 million cubic yards of sand have been dredged from beaches north of the Port Canaveral harbor inlet and “bypassed” south across the inlet to beaches along the Cape Canaveral shoreline.
Previous bypassing efforts occurred in 1995, 1998, 2007 and 2009-10.
Harbor maintenance project: Separately, the harbor maintenance project will help restore the depth of the port channel entrance to 46 feet below the mean high water level.
Currently, there are some sections of the channel that are not quite that deep, which can mean additional advance planning for the scheduling of some larger cargo ships entering and leaving the port.
The timeline for that dredging work has not yet been established.
Port Canaveral Chief Executive Office John Murray said the projects are crucial for the port.
“Ensuring access to our waterways and safe transit of cruise and cargo vessels are vital to this region’s economy,” Murray said in a statement.
Port Canaveral is the world’s second-busiest cruise port, behind the Port of Miami, in terms of passenger volume. While Port Canaveral’s cargo business is relatively small compared with some ports, cargo volume has been growing.
Murray said he is grateful to U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, “for his efforts to ensure projects that are important to our operations received priority funding.”
In a statement, Posey said the Canaveral Harbor Sand Bypass Project “is important to our local economy, our space program and our national security. Timely completion of the sand bypass will help safeguard our local maritime commerce by ensuring that ocean vessels can continue to navigate through Canaveral Harbor.”
The port also will find out in several weeks if it will receive an additional $4 million for other maintenance dredging work that will extend 2 to 3 miles offshore from the port’s channel entrance.
Shoaling caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017 now requires additional work for the sand bypass at an estimated additional cost of $4 million.
The Corps of Engineers is completing a separate construction work plan to address this additional channel shoaling, using money awarded by Congress to the Army Corps in the disaster supplemental budget, which passed in December