The Alabama seaport modernization program began construction on Friday to provide a deeper and wider mobile ship canal and improve the lower harbor turning basin by 2025.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed two construction contracts in a multi-phase construction program valued at $ 365.7 million that will reduce the existing bar, bay, and river channels bar by five feet each to a project depth of 50 feet Depths for shaft allowances, extended maintenance and permissible excess depths for dredging (total depths of 56, 54 and 54 feet, respectively) are to be deepened. The project also includes expanding the Bay Channel by 100 feet for three nautical miles to accommodate two-way shipping and other safety enhancements.
“We’re excited to see material moving on this important project,” said John C. Driscoll, director and CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority. “This project, together with the joint support of our partners at federal and state level, will provide our customers and our freight forwarders with the necessary infrastructure to ensure their competitiveness in the market.”
The commencement of work represents a $ 53.9 million contract for dredging 12 miles north of the proposed widening area between Dauphin Island and south of the junction of the canal with the Theodore Industrial Canal. The contractor, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock, Company (GLDD), will use funnels and mechanical (shovel) excavators for the next 18 months. GLDD is the nation’s largest provider of dredging services.
The next phase of construction is tied to a contract worth 8.3 million USD, which was awarded in September 2020. The contractor for this phase is also the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, which will use funnel dredgers to dredge approximately 3.5 km of the rod channel. This work is expected to begin in June or early July this year.
The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Alabama State Port Authority signed the project partnership agreement in June 2020 so that the contract and construction phase can begin.
Mobile Harbor modernization program received full federal funding in February 2020 under the direction of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). In March 2019, the state of Alabama donated a portion of the proceeds from the state fuel tax to support bonds totaling approximately $ 150 million in federal cost-sharing requirements for the port project.
Shelby praised the crucial step taken on Friday to achieve the goals of the project plan.
“I am delighted that we have finally started construction to deepen and expand the Port of Mobile. I am confident that this will dramatically improve our state and local economies for generations to come,” he said. “That is good news. The project to modernize the mobile port has been one of my top priorities for several years. I look forward to its completion and the benefits it will bring.”
The Mobile Harbor deepening and expansion project received its decision in September 2019 after a comprehensive four-year study of environmental impact and economic feasibility. The project is allocating over $ 1.3 billion in public land terminals and canal investments in Alabama’s only seaport to ensure economies of scale and competitive pricing for the seaport’s mining, manufacturing, agricultural and retail / distribution shippers.
In addition to the expected economic benefits of the project, Col. Sebastien P. Joly, Commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, praised the collaboration the federal agency has established with the Alabama State Port Authority.
“The Mobile District, the US Army Corps of Engineers, is excited to begin physically building the Mobile Channel Deepening,” commented Joly. “We have been fortunate to be part of a large federal and state team that will provide additional capabilities for the city of Mobile, the state of Alabama and the entire Southeast region as we ensure Mobile Harbor is well positioned to compete remain relevant in the world market. “
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn