By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE -- Officials from the state Department of Transportation appeared before the Fort Pierce City Commission and the St. Lucie County Commission earlier in January to see if there was interest from the local community in continuing to update the Port of Fort Pierce master plan.
They got their answer: a unanimous yes.
During the presentation, Jeff Weidner with the FDOT gave a summary of the work that has been done since the department last spoke to local government leaders.
Last year, the state began a study on the port, which is mostly held by a private landowner, to see if there were potential opportunities for expansion when the Panama Canal is widened next year.
The port has been in existence since the beginnings of the city, and is one of the few deepwater ports on the east coast of Florida. One of its challenges, however, is a lack of funds needed to maintain it. As a result, some areas of the port are not as deep as others.
That's where the state is stepping in to help.
"I'm very proud of our team for putting together an emergency permit that will allow for emergency dredging," Mr. Weidner said.
Mr. Weidner also brought forward three areas the state would like to tackle next in phase two of the project: involving the community with the expansion of the port, developing the port itself and the area around it and keeping a close eye on the environmental impact an expansion would have.
"There's some construction activity going on and that's exciting," he said, referring to the recent work done to complete the Taylor Creek project and updating 2nd Street.
"These projects were the result of the 2002 plan, and were the last two projects identified in the plan.
"I think it's a great idea," said Fort Pierce Commissioner Edward Becht.
The last time the port had a master plan was in 2002.