USACE Balances Economic Revitalization and Sustainable Environment (USA)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District and its regional partners are committed to achieve the vision of a World Class Harbor Estuary. This vision balances economic revitalization of the Port of New York and New Jersey while creating a sustainable environment through comprehensive restoration and protection of public safety.
Over the past 20 years, the New York District and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have deepened more than 35 miles of shipping channels and dredged more than 60 million cubic yards of sediment to accommodate the large container ships that predominate in worldwide shipping today which are too big for the current Panama Canal, but which soon will be traveling through the new Panama Canal. These improvements are critical to keeping the Port of New York and New Jersey competitive and viable, particularly with the deepened Panama Canal scheduled to open in 2014.
The Port of New York and New Jersey is a key regional and national economic engine providing about approximately 280,000 jobs in New York and New Jersey, nearly $11.6 billion in personal income, more than $37.1 billion in business income and almost $5.2 billion in tax revenues (NY Shipping Association, 2011) while serving 35 percent of the United States population.
As the Harbor Deepening Project nears completion, over 3.6 million cubic yards of high quality sand is being dredged from Ambrose Channel in order to complete the 50-foot pathway from the ocean to Port Elizabeth and Newark, New Jersey by December 2012. The overall Harbor Deepening Project will be completed in 2014 providing the pathway to the New York Container Terminal on the Arthur Kill Channel, in Staten Island, New York.
Throughout the Harbor Deepening Program, maximizing the beneficial use of dredged material has been the policy at the New York District. The latest initiative — known as the Jamaica Bay Multi-project Initiative exemplifies this policy in every way and attempts to use as much of the sand to remediate, restore and protect the harbor estuary.
The planning and implementation of this innovative and creative program attempts to align multiple navigation programs, both construction of Ambrose Channel and Operation and in New York, Maintenance of the Rockaway Inlet Channel, advance three critical marsh island restoration projects in Jamaica Bay to restore more than 75 acres of wetlands, stabilize the shoreline at Plumb Beach to protect the essential transportation infrastructure of the Belt Parkway, cap and in New Jersey close the Newark Bay Confined Disposal Facility (NBCDF), cap the Historic Area Remediation Site (HARS) and continue to work with its partners to seek additional restoration opportunities throughout the estuary.
The integration of these individual programs and projects has resulted in maximizing the beneficial use of dredged material, leveraging authorizations/funding and reducing costs during construction while saving tax payers dollars (e.g., reduced mobilization costs and sharing of sand placement/pipeline infrastructure). Specifically, marsh island restoration and coastal wetlands help stabilize and protect the shoreline, provide critical habitat and improve water and sediment quality. The success of this beneficial use initiative can be attributed to our strong partnerships and consensus goals within the region.
“The Army Corps has a strong commitment along with our partners and stakeholders to restore critical habitat within Jamaica Bay, balancing the needs of a sustainable environment with the economic benefits of deepening the Port of New York and New Jersey,” said Col. John R. Boulé II, the Army Corps’ New York District Commander. “The region continues to work together to achieve our vision of a World Class Harbor Estuary for future generations.”
These strong partnerships and the steadfast commitment of many federal, state and local partners result in efficient coordination to develop plans and specifications approve technical reports, execute funding agreements, secure federal and non-federal funds and issue permits. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation provided significant non-federal funds serving as non-federal sponsors. Other important partners include the National Park Service, New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program, New York State National Resources Conservation Service and many other stakeholders.
The combined forces of the regional partnerships within the Harbor Estuary are key to advancing restoration at a time when funding is limited. This initiative exemplifies the types of projects that are to be advanced in the Hudson Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan, the NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, plaNYC, Vision 2020, as well as the Department of the Interior and City of New York’s strategy to restore Jamaica Bay, New York.
Dredging Today Staff, April 18, 2012; Image: usace