WSP USA’s extensive experience with maritime structures has helped facilitate a critical expansion at Florida’s leading container port – while at the same time mitigating the project’s environmental impacts.
The Turning Notch Expansion aims to increase berthing space to accommodate larger modern container ships at Port Everglades. The Port handles more than 1 million 20-foot-equivalent units of cargo volume and serves as a gateway to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.
The program is an important component of the Port Everglades masterplan which identified this project to double the containerized cargo capacity of the existing port over the next decade, and to allow for berthing of super post-Panamax vessels.
To accommodate these larger ships, the port initiated the redevelopment of 25 acres of container yard and berthing apron space at its Southport Turning Notch. WSP was hired by Broward County to provide civil and structural engineering design services and serve as a specialty consultant for port-related design issues for the $500 million project, which is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2023.
The project is being delivered via a general contractor/construction manager, where the contractor is selected and engaged early in the design phase of the project to help mitigate risk.
The scope includes excavation of three million cubic yards of material to create a 42-foot-deep turnaround area for cargo ships, along with five additional berths, including a Super Post-Panamax berth. Marine and landside improvements entailed 5,000 feet of seawall/wharf and marine and utility infrastructure, including a stormwater drainage system comprising 7,200 feet of pipe and 1,900 feet of exfiltration trenches.
The project also consists of landside infrastructure improvements to support the acquisition of six additional Super Post-Panamax gantry cranes in Southport along Berths 31 and 32 as well as Berth 30. Additionally, the existing 100-foot gauge rails along Berth 30 project are also being extended westward to the limits of the new Southport Turning Notch Extension.
WSP’s scope for the expansion required the design of nearly one mile of new steel bulkhead wall, evaluation of an existing steel bulkhead wall, removal of several acres of land, container yard upgrades and improvements and fender and mooring hardware upgrades. Furthermore, Berth 30 – which is 970 feet long and located within the notch – has to remain operational during construction.
“WSP worked closely with the owner and the contractor team to execute the multi—faceted and highly publicized project in a timely manner within an operational terminal,” said Kosal Krishnan, WSP national maritime leader.
WSP also deployed construction administration staff and provided round the clock technical services in support of construction.
Marine Habitat Mitigation
To offset the project’s environmental impacts, WSP developed environmental mitigation to satisfy permit requirements. In the project’s first stage, the team restored approximately 16.5 acres of upland mangrove marsh by excavating fill to re-contour the marsh, then planting 70,000 Florida-native, nursery-grown mangrove and wetland transition buffer plants.
The mitigation design created additional mangrove habitat through the construction of riprap planters and restored the shoreline of an existing manatee nursery area by removing existing nuisance exotic vegetation and reconfiguring the eroded shore. For reef mitigation, 814 corals were relocated to create three acres of artificial reef habitat for natural recruitment, ultimately replacing nearly 15 acres of existing hard-bottom reef habitat.
“WSP monitors the mangrove and reef habitat on a quarterly basis to document the success of these mitigation areas, and ongoing observations of wildlife have revealed wading birds, shorebirds and other highly mobile avian species,” Krishnan said.
Located within the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach, Port Everglades is in the heart of one of the world’s largest consumer regions, with a constant flow of approximately 110 million visitors statewide and six million residents within an 80-mile radius. The port has direct access to the interstate highway system and the Florida East Coast Railway’s 43-acre intermodal container transfer facility and is closer to the Atlantic Shipping Lanes than any other Southeastern U.S. port.