Port Authority takes first steps on dredging channel

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 09:35 AM.

The Port St. Joe Port Authority last week approved the first baby steps in the lengthy process of achieving dredging of the deepwater shipping channel.

Port director Tommy Pitts said he and staff from state agencies had identified several hoops the Port Authority should leap through in the near future as a timeline and process for securing dredging becomes clearer.

“We have been working with the (Florida Department of Environmental Protection), the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and others on the dredging,” Pitts said. “The DEP has been proactive in cooperating with us and is assisting us.”

Pitts said two urgent steps forward are a permit pre-application meeting with the stakeholding regulatory agencies and a seagrass survey of the channel and adjacent areas.

The pre-application meeting, tentatively planned for two weeks from now, would be to clearly define requirements for the dredge permit application.

Once requirements are defined, a contract for the permitting work can be negotiated, Pitts said.

“A lot of work goes into meeting with the agencies,” said Billy Perry with Hatch Mott MacDonald, the port’s engineering firm whose team is serving as point on the permitting effort. “What we hope to take away is identification of any specialized studies the agencies want.”

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