The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $274 million for the Port of Mobile in its fiscal year 2020 Work Plan, officially providing the resources to dredge Alabama’s busiest port. The funding — which accounts for the full federal share of the project cost — will initiate and complete construction of the deepening and widening of the navigation channel. Following the required preliminary steps, construction is expected to begin toward the end of the year.
The construction will include the expansion of the Port of Mobile from its current dimensions — 45′ and 400′ wide — by deepening the existing bar, bay, and river channels by 5′ to a project depth of 50′. This will include additional depths for wave allowances, advanced maintenance, and allowable over-depth for dredging. Following construction, the total depths of the bar, bay, and river channels will be 56′, 54′, and 54′ respectively. The project also includes widening the Bay Channel by 100′ for three nautical miles.
“Today marks a historic moment and victory for Mobile and the entire state of Alabama. Over the last decade, I have been advocating for the deepening and widening of the Port of Mobile,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said in a prepared statement. “The completion of this transformative project is expected to stem immeasurable economic growth and will position Alabama and the Gulf Coast region for success for generations to come. I am grateful to the Army Corps of Engineers for allocating the full federal share of the project cost (75%) and to the state of Alabama for providing the required matching funds (25%). I look forward to its completion and the resulting impact.”
In December 2019, the fiscal 2020 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill was signed into law as part of H.R. 1865 and included a new regional dredge demonstration program for the central Gulf Coast. The program, administered by the Corps, was created to explore innovative ways of executing dredging in a logical and sequenced manner to seek efficiencies and cost savings and minimize disruptions to critical construction and maintenance dredging requirements across the nation. Now the Corps has officially released its fiscal 2020 Work Plan, announcing funding for the Port of Mobile and other qualifying projects.
The Port of Mobile has an economic impact of $22.4 billion. The harbor channel construction project, which will allow for more goods to be shipped and sold through Mobile, is financed by a split of 75% federal funds and 25% state-sponsored funds. Through federal legislation, Shelby has helped increase the federal government’s share of funding for deep draft ports from 50% to 75%.