Despite a nearly $2 billion budget to maintain the nation’s inland waterways and harbors, it will be hard for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to meet all the maritime industry’s infrastructure needs, Maj. Gen. Ed Jackson told attendees at the recent California conference.
Jackson, the Corps’ deputy commanding general for Civil and Emergency Operations, covered a variety of topics while speaking to dredging industry representatives, environmental organizations and government agencies at the winter meeting of the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference held January 21.
According to Jackson, the Corps continues to look at the Panama Canal expansion project expected to be completed this year and at optimizing America’s port infrastructure to accommodate the New Panamax ships that more than double cargo carrying capacity over Panamax ships.
“We’re doing all we can on the Corps side to articulate the importance and the economies of scale that come with those types of vessels,” said Jackson. “It’s important to invest, not only in making our harbors more capable, but to make them more reliable.”
Jackson said that USACE has three deepening projects in active construction in New York and New Jersey Harbor, Savannah Harbor and Delaware River ports. Nine harbors were recommended for deepening and seven others are under study, including one at Long Beach, California.
Conference attendees asked the general what message resonates best with leaders in Washington that would cause them to invest a little bit more in the Corps’ civil works program. Jackson told them, “risk of failure.”
The conference included presentations on sediment management, environmental issues and surface transportation legislation, along with a workshop on sea level rise.