Construction works on the deepening of the Grays Harbor Navigation Channel to its fully authorized depth of -38 feet MLLW will get underway in 2015.
The $8 million needed for this critical project was included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 2015 (FY2015) work plan that was released Tuesday. President Barack Obama’s FY2016 budget also included $7 million for completing the deepening.
One of the fastest growing export ports on the West Coast, Grays Harbor has experienced a surge in cargo volumes at its five deep-water marine terminals, with vessel traffic increasing more than 300% over the past five years. The deepening of the federal navigation channel to its congressionally authorized depth will ensure that U.S. grown and manufactured products are competitive in the growing Pacific Rim trade.
“Deeper Draft will serve our customers, our community and our country well into the future as we continue to provide a crucial link between United States growers and producers and international markets,” stated Executive Director, Gary Nelson.
The Grays Harbor Navigation Channel was authorized by Congress to a depth of -38 feet MLLW in 1977. Construction of Phase I was completed in 1991 improving the channel to a depth of -36 feet MLLW.
Efforts for Phase II, constructing the channel to its fully authorized depth of -38 feet, began in 2007 and have included feasibility reports, biological assessments, impact mitigation studies, environmental assessments and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement completed in June 2014.
In August 2014, USACE Brigadier General John Kem of the Northwestern Division signed the Record of Decision (ROD), officially recommending deepening the channel to -38 feet MLLW and that it was technically feasible, environmentally justified, cost effective and in accordance with environmental statutes and public interest.
The Port of Grays Harbor, as the local sponsor, is working with the State of Washington to secure the cost-share of $4.575 million for the project. The State previously provided the cost-share for both Phase I of Deeper Draft, as well as the deepening of the Columbia River in 2005. The deepening of the inner harbor is expected to begin Fall 2015.