TAMPA, Fla. — The Port Tampa Bay dredging project to make it possible for larger ships to use the facility is done, and it's a year ahead of schedule, port officials said.

The Big Bend Channel Expansion project began in October and was supposed to take 18 months, Port Tampa Bay officials said Monday, but it was completed last week.

The work cost $63 million.

Officials said the work will turn Port Redwing, a 270-acre site in South Hillsborough County, into a warehousing and distribution hub.

The project deepened the entrance channel, the east/west channel, the inner channel, the turning basin and local service facilities at Big Bend from 34 to 43 feet. It widened the entrance channel from 200 to 250 feet for a length of 1.9 miles. It also deepened the existing turning basin to 43 feet and expanded it to 1,200 feet.

The material dredged from the Big Bend Channel was used to create 100 acres of new nesting and roosting areas in Hillsborough Bay.

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