Freight News, Sea

Engineering & Design to begin for Port of Mobile Deepening

[ October 11, 2019   //   ]

The Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) director and chief executive officer James K. Lyons and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Mobile District commander Colonel Sebastien Joly signed the Mobile Harbor Pre-Construction, Engineering and Design Agreement on October 2 at the Port Authority’s headquarters in downtown Mobile. The engineering and design phase establishes the construction parameters to deepen and widen Alabama’s only deep-water seaport.

“This agreement is a critical step toward realizing the port’s ability to accommodate the larger ships serving the world’s major trade lanes, while improving vessel transit efficiencies and safety in our port,” said Lyons. Under the USACE Record of Decision issued in early September, the project will deepen the existing Bar, Bay and River Channels Bar, by 5 feet each to a project depth of 50 ft, (15.24m), with additional depths for wave allowances, advanced maintenance, and allowable over depth for dredging (total depths of 56, 54, and 54 ft, respectively). The project also includes widening the Bay Channel by 100 feet (328.08m) for three nautical miles to accommodate two-way vessel traffic and other safety improvements. Construction on the modifications is expected to begin in late 2020.

The harbor improvement project is keeping pace with ongoing terminal investments in Alabama’s seaport to ensure economies of scale and competitive rates for the seaport’s shippers. The Port Authority will complete its $50 million, Phase 3 container terminal expansion in early 2020 delivering another 20 acres of handling yard and extending the dock to allow simultaneous berth of two Post-Panamax sized ships. The project complements prior investments totaling $450 million in marine and rail container intermodal facilities that include two Super Post-Panamax and two Post-Panamax ship to shore gantry cranes. “As demand dictates, we’re positioned to respond quickly to further expansion,” says Lyons.

Fueled by growth and Alabama shipper demand, the Port Authority requested the USACE initiate the necessary studies to widen and deepen the harbor. Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) in March of this year signed into law the Rebuild Alabama Act, a bipartisan measure passed by the Alabama State Legislature, that allocates a portion of state fuel tax proceeds to support approximately $150 million in bonds to meet the federal cost-share requirements for the harbor project.