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March 2 2020

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42 The Journal of Commerce | March 2 2020 International Maritime THE US ARMY Corps of Engineers in February backed six port channel projects with $403 million in fed- eral funding as part of $7.65 billion allocated under the Army Corps' 2020 civil works program dedicated to water-related infrastructure. The funding, included in the fed- eral 2020 budget, is about 16 percent higher than the previous year. The fund allocations, in response to port requests for project support, reflect the desire among ports along the East and Gulf coasts to prepare for growing vessel sizes so they can better com- pete with neighboring ports. The largest award, $274 million, went to the Port of Mobile, Alabama, to provide full funding for a project to dredge the port's channel to 50 feet. That would allow the port to ditch its existing 9,000-TEU limit on vessel sizes and prepare it to handle ships of 13,000 to 14,000 TEU. The project could be completed in three or four years after work begins, port officials said last year. The Army Corps awarded the next largest amount, $85 million, to a project to deepen the Mississippi River to 50 feet between the Gulf of Mexico and a point between the ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. That stretch of river at pres- ent has a depth of 45 feet to 48 feet. The project would primarily benefit bulk carriers and tankers, some of which can't be loaded to their full capacity because of draft limitations. Channel depth is less of an issue for container ships at New Orleans. Their main constraint is a pair of Mississippi River bridges that restrict air-draft clearance to approximately 153 feet to 170 feet, depending on water levels. Still, the dredge project "tremen- dously helps not only the port of New Orleans, but the entire lower Mississippi River," according to Matt Gresham, director of external affairs for the Port of New Orleans. Gresham noted that the extra depth would help container ships if the port fulfills its plan to build a second container terminal, located lower down the river where there are no height restrictions. Everglades chokepoint The Army Corps also awarded $29.1 million to Port Everglades, Florida, to pay for the construction of a new facility at the US Coast Guard (USCG) Station in Fort The funding is designed to improve port facilities at or near coastal seaports. Houston's Bayport is one of two container terminals in the port, along with the Barbours Cut Container Terminal. The completion of the Bayport wharf will increase its capacity to 2.4 million TEU by 2032, the PHA said. Houston has experienced double- digit growth in each of the last three years, and in the first 11 months of 2019 was the fastest-growing port in the US, according to PIERS, a sister product of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit. The volume of loaded TEU handled by Houston terminals increased 11.4 percent to 2.27 million TEU through November, compared with the same period in 2018, PIERS figures show. Thanks to the high concentra- tion of resin production facilities on the Gulf Coast, resin exports have been a key element of that growth. The resin boom helped drive a 51 percent increase in resin exports through Houston, to 392,010 loaded TEU, in the first 11 months of 2019, PIERS figures show. US resin exports overall jumped 29 percent during the same period. JOC email: twitter: @arijashe email: twitter: @HughRMorley1 Engineering success US Army Corps awards $403 million to six port channel projects By Hugh R. Morley

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