To meet the cost-competitive shipping needs of Alabama commerce and to accommodate increased ocean vessel sizes serving major international trade lanes, Alabama and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) propose to deepen the existing Port of Mobile Bar, Bay and River Channels to 50 feet (15.24m). The project also includes widening the Bay Channel by 100 feet (328.08m) for 3 nautical miles to accommodate two-way vessel traffic. Project safety modifications include expanding the current Post-Panamax sized turning basin and incorporating a minor bend easing in the lower Bay Channel. Following a four-year, $7.8 million environmental impact study, the USACE issued in September 2019 a Record of Decision and initiated preconstruction engineering and design of the project. The USACE expects to begin its three to four-year construction program by October 2020. The estimated $365 million project will receive up to $150 million from the State of Alabama under the Rebuild Alabama Act, a bipartisan fuel tax increase dedicated to Alabama harbor and surface transportation infrastructure improvements.
When complete, the harbor modernization will allow full lading of Post-Panamax ships, expand ship capacity, improve ship transit efficiencies, and reduce shipping costs making Alabama and other U.S. businesses more competitive in a global market arena. The national economic assessment determined for every $1 invested, the U.S. Treasury receives $3 in benefits. From the increased cargo activity, Alabama and local governments coupled with the state’s beneficial cargo owners (importers/exporters) conservatively receive $5 in benefits for every dollar invested.
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