U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Chris Coons (D-DE) last week called on President Obama to include funding in his FY 2016 budget for the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project, which will allow larger commercial ships to access vital Delaware River ports.
The senators have urged the administration to dedicate sufficient resources to this project that will create jobs and anchor the region’s economy. Their efforts have helped to put this project on a pathway to completion in the next few years.
“A commitment by your Administration to provide robust funding for this initiative will ensure that dredging continues to support existing jobs along the Delaware River, attract new businesses to the region and allow existing companies to expand,” the senators wrote. “The continuation and ultimate completion of this project will also help to create new job opportunities for more than 250,000 people looking for work in the Philadelphia-Wilmington metropolitan area, and could result in more than $13 million in additional economic activity annually.”
The full text of the senators’ letter is below:
“Dear Mr. President:
“We write to urge your continued support of the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project and request its inclusion in your budget for Fiscal Year 2016. We deeply appreciate the considerable federal investment to date, as this is a project of critical importance to our national infrastructure and regional economy. Vice President Biden recently visited Philadelphia to see this project first hand to stress the importance of finishing this project on time. As you know, completion of this project will spur economic development and create jobs in our respective regions. In order to advance this important economic development initiative toward its target completion in 2017, we request that you include the U.S. Army Corps’ full capability of $62.5 million for the project in your FY 2016 budget.
“In order for this crucial project to be completed on schedule, it is essential that the project receives the full capability level for FY 2016. This funding would be used to blast and remove rock during a strict three month window, which is the only period this blasting can occur due to environmental and economic reasons. If the project does not receive the full funding level, this rock removal phase will have to be completed in multiple phases and would delay the entire project by a year or more. Removing the rock over several years will not only lead to higher project costs, but will also prevent completion of the project by the current target of 2017.
“The purpose of this project, which has received federal funding since 1999, is to deepen the existing Delaware River navigation channel from 40 to 45 feet from the mouth of the Delaware Bay North to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden, New Jersey. Receiving larger, post-Panamax vessels will allow the Ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington to remain competitive globally and domestically. This deepening initiative is expected to result in an annual increase in cargo of 2.5 million tons. In addition, your continued support for this important project will bolster our economic recovery, and will provide a direct opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs.
“A commitment by your Administration to provide robust funding for this initiative will ensure that dredging continues to support existing jobs along the Delaware River, attract new businesses to the region and allow existing companies to expand. The continuation and ultimate completion of this project will also help to create new job opportunities for more than 250,000 people looking for work in the Philadelphia-Wilmington metropolitan area, and could result in more than $13 million in additional economic activity annually.
“As the Administration continues to support responsible and much-needed infrastructure investments, we strongly encourage you to include funding for the full capability level of $62.5 million for the Delaware River Deepening Project in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Thank you for your consideration of this request and your continued commitment to prioritize the modernization of ports along the East Coast. Thank you for your past support and the crucial federal investment that has already been made to date. We look forward to continuing to work with you to bring this critical project to completion.”