Officials at the Port of Long Beach, one of the busiest ports in the nation, have approved a $170 million channel deepening project that will improve navigation and safety for bigger vessels.
Following an extensive environmental review process, the Long Beach Harbor Commission has now greenlit the project, which will also allow the port to welcome newer and more efficient ships.
“By improving navigation in Long Beach Harbor, goods will speed faster around the supply chain, yielding enormous economic benefits for our city, region, and the nation,” said Harbor Commission President Sharon L. Weissman. “At the same time, it will make operations safer and help lessen environmental impacts on our community.”
The Port of Long Beach and the federal government will share in the costs of the project, estimated at almost $170 million. The port’s portion is estimated at $109 million.
Among other features, the project includes deepening the Long Beach Approach Channel from 76 feet to 80 feet deep, easing turning bends in the Main Channel to deepen a wider area to 76 feet, deepening parts of the West Basin from 50 to 55 feet, constructing an approach channel and turning basin to Pier J South with a depth of 55 feet, improving the breakwaters at the entrance to Pier J, and depositing dredged material in nearshore sites for refuse or in federally approved ocean disposal sites.
According to a multi-year federal study conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and completed last October, deepening and widening channels in the harbor would lead to improved vessel navigation, safety, and national economic benefits of almost $21 million annually.
This past July, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Record of Decision concluding the federal environmental review process for the project. The milestone opens the way for projects to compete for federal funding.
In January, Long Beach was awarded $8 million through the $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help initiate and complete the preconstruction, engineering and design phase
“We already accommodate some of the largest ships in the world here,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “Deepening and improving our waterways will give these vessels more room to maneuver, and to do so more efficiently by taking on more containers, reducing the number of ship calls and associated emissions.”
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