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Dredging: Tampa

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Port Tampa Bay makes public/private commitment for $60 million expansion project

Port Tampa Bay has approved a public-private partnership agreement with four other entities to divvy up who will pay for a $60 million widening and extension of the Big Bend Channel.

The strategic partners include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and two of the port’s largest tenants Tampa Electric Co. (TECO) and Mosaic Co.

The Big Bend Channel connects to the Tampa Harbor main channel and will be deepened from 34 feet to 43 feet and widened from 200 feet to 250 feet to accommodate larger ships.

The Army Corps estimates the expansion to cost more than $60 million, but future bids may wind up higher or lower than that. Bids are not expected until March 2018. Project funding from the partners would be due at that time.

The federal government promised $9 million and plans to take over maintenance costs of approximately $1 million. FDOT has pledged to pay 50 percent of the balance after the federal commitment and has given the port $5.7 million so far. The others — TECO, one of the region’s major power providers, and Mosaic, a global producer of fertilizers, both use the Big Bend Channel — and will be responsible for the remaining funds.

The Big Bend project is made a strategic priority in the port’s Vision 2030 Master Plan.

Separately, Port Tampa Bay also approved the use of a portion of $4.2 million in Florida Seaports Transportation and Economic Development Council (FSTED) funds to improve two existing berths. The port will pay more than half of the reconstruction costs with the other portion coming from FSTED funds and state grants. The update to Berth 219 will cost $8.6 million and Berth 3 is estimated at $6.3 million.

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