Deepening of the Port of Mobile, expansion to be completed by 2025
The Alabama Seaport Modernization Program began construction on Friday to provide a deeper and wider moving channel by 2025 and improve the port’s lower turning basin.
The US Army Corps of Engineers executed two construction contracts as part of a $ 365.7 million multi-phase construction program designed and engineered to deepen the existing bar of the Bar, Bay and River Canals of 5 feet (feet) each at a design depth of 50 feet, (15.24 m), with additional depths for maneuvering room, advanced maintenance, and allowed over-depth for dredging (total depths of 56, 54 and 54 feet, respectively).
The project also includes widening the Bay Channel by 100 feet (328.08 m) over three nautical miles to accommodate two-way vessel traffic and other safety improvements.
“We are extremely excited to see material move forward on this crucial project,” said John C. Driscoll, director and CEO of the Alabama State Ports Authority. “This project, combined with the collaborative support of our federal and state partners, will provide our customers and our carriers with the necessary infrastructure to ensure their competitiveness in the market.”
Friday’s start of work represents a $ 53.9 million contract for dredging operations 12 miles north of the planned widening area between Dauphin Island and south of the Channel intersection and of Theodore Industrial Canal.
The contractor – Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company – will be using hopper and mechanical (bucket) dredges for the next 18 months. GLDD is the largest dredging service provider in the country.
The next phase of construction is tied to a $ 8.3 million contract awarded in September 2020. The contractor for this phase is also Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, which will dredge approximately 2.2 miles from the bar channel to using hopper dredgers. This work should start in June or early July of this year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Alabama State Ports Authority entered into a project partnership agreement in June 2020 to allow the contracting and construction phases to begin.
The Mobile Harbor modernization program received full federal funding in February 2020, and in March 2019, the state of Alabama allocated a portion of the state’s fuel tax proceeds to support approximately $ 150 million. dollars of bonds to meet federal cost-sharing requirements for the port project.
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, hailed this crucial step in meeting the project’s schedule goals:
“I am glad that we have finally started construction to deepen and widen the Port of Mobile, which I am confident will dramatically improve our condition and the local economy for generations to come. This is great news. The mobile port modernization project has been one of my top priorities for several years. I look forward to its completion and the benefits that flow from it. ”
The Mobile Harbor deepening and widening project received its decision dossier in September 2019, following a comprehensive four-year study on environmental impact and economic feasibility. The project leverages more than $ 1.3 billion in public land-based terminals and routes investments into Alabama’s only seaport to ensure economies of scale and competitive rates for shippers, mining, manufacturing, food and retail / port distribution.
In addition to the expected economic benefits of the project, Colonel Sébastien P. Joly, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, praised the collaborative relationship that the federal agency has established with the Port Authority of the State of the ‘Alabama.
“The Mobile District, US Army Corps of Engineers, is excited to see the start of the physical construction of the Mobile Channel Deepening,” Joly said. “We have been fortunate to be part of a large federal and state team that will provide additional capabilities to the city of Mobile, the state of Alabama and the entire Southeast region as we ensure that the mobile port is well positioned to remain competitive and relevant in the global market. ”