Port, Army Corps moving ahead on N.Y. harbor upgrades

(NEW YORK) — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has outlined a multifaceted package of significant investments in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to boost navigational safety and efficiency at the East Coast’s busiest container port.

The investments will pave the way for tangible improvements to the Port of New York and New Jersey’s safety and efficiency, as well as enabling further growth of a national economic powerhouse that supports over half a million regional jobs and the movement of more than $200 billion in goods every year.

The new investments between the Port Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers include more than $50 million through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the seaport’s berth maintenance dredging, berth rehabilitation and berth reconstruction.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo

Additionally, a separate $32 million project will deepen and widen the Gravesend Anchorage outside the Kill van Kull waterway from its current depth of 47 feet to 50 feet, which will provide a location for large ships to anchor between Ambrose Anchorage in the Atlantic Ocean and the seaport’s container terminals.

Anchorage space that is large and deep enough to handle the largest containerships calling the Port of New York and New Jersey improves the port’s safety and efficiency, allowing large ships to move closer to the port during inspections, refueling or inclement weather and to have an emergency refuge area in the event of a mechanical or navigational issue.

During the pandemic, the Port of New York and New Jersey handled cargo volumes that ranged from nearly 19 percent to more than 47 percent above the amount of cargo handled before the pandemic. In 2022, the port was the country’s busiest for four consecutive months during the industry’s shipping peak period. It is now the country’s second-busiest port and a critical link in the global supply chain.

“For about 50 million people across several states, this port is the reason why we have food to eat, shoes on our feet and beds to go to sleep,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “The port is the economic foundation on which the region is built, and now we’re strengthening that foundation even further with millions of dollars of investment alongside our longtime partners at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

The Port Authority’s longstanding partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers on the Channel Deepening Program dates to 1989, when both parties started work on a $2.1 billion project that deepened New York Harbor’s federal navigational channels to its current depth of 50 feet. Work on that initiative was completed in 2016, after which the Port Authority raised the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge to a navigational height clearance of 215 feet that allowed the largest containerships in the world at the time to sail through the Kill van Kull to access the port’s terminals in New York and New Jersey.

The harbor deepening project helped keep the Port of New York and New Jersey competitive within a global logistics industry that is increasingly using larger containerships to move containerized oceangoing cargo. The Port Authority expects the seaport’s cargo volumes to double or triple by 2050, as forecasted in the seaport’s capital and operating improvements blueprint known as Port Master Plan 2050.

In December 2023, the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners authorized participation in a $20 million project engineering and design (PED) effort, split evenly between the Port Authority and Army Corps, to further refine the cost and schedule for the New York/New Jersey Harbor Deepening and Channel Improvement Project, which will further deepen and widen the navigational channels in the port by an additional 5 feet.

On May 29, both parties signed an agreement at the port’s marine facility in Bayonne to move the project forward to the PED phase. This phase will include inspections of the current channel, ship simulation modeling and design, and the composition of plans and specifications for the project. The construction schedule would be subject to further appropriations by Congress and authorization by the Port Authority Board of Commissioners.

– Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

By Professional Mariner Staff