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 have signed the Mobile Harbor Pre-Construction, Engineering and Design Agreement 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 deepwater 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′ each to a project depth of 50′ with additional depths for wave allowances, advanced maintenance, and allowable over depth for dredging (total depths of 56′, 54′, and 54′, respectively). The project also includes widening the Bay Channel by 100′ 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,” said Lyons.
Fueled by growth and Alabama shipper demand, the Port Authority requested the USACE initiate the necessary studies to widen and deepen the harbor. Gov. 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.
The Alabama State Port Authority represents the State of Alabama’s public, deep-water terminals serving general cargo, container, over-dimensional and bulk cargoes supporting over 134,600 jobs and $22.4 billion in economic impact to the state. The public terminals have immediate access to two interstate systems, five Class 1 railroads, and nearly 15,000 miles of inland waterway connections.