Port Tampa Bay is moving forward with a $55 million plan to expand the Big Bend Channel after approving a project participation agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday.
The move will make room for larger ships in the channel, which connects to the Tampa Harbor main channel, by widening it from 200 feet to 250 feet and increasing the depth from 34 feet to 43 feet.
Port Tampa Bay expects the project to be completed in 2019.
A bipartisan group of Florida members of the House of Representatives penned a letter in March claiming the Big Bend Channel represents a $50 million economic development initiative with the potential to create 8,000 jobs.
The port has also invested $30 million into the growing Port Redwing maritime complex the Big Bend Channel will serve.
The port listed its Big Bend project as one of its strategic priorities in the Vision 2030 Master Plan.