The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the City of Waukegan and the Waukegan Port District have entered into a partnership to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate a range of alternatives for improving the reliability of Waukegan Harbor for commercial navigation.
“This study builds upon other initiatives we’ve undertaken with state and local agencies to more effectively manage sediment along the northern portion of Illinois’ Lake Michigan coast. We look forward to working with our partners to develop solutions for improving navigation at Waukegan Harbor,” said Col. Aaron Reisinger, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District.
Waukegan Harbor is one of 60 deep-draft commercial harbors that are part of the Great Lakes navigation system. Initial federal investment for navigation improvements at Waukegan Harbor began in 1852. Construction of most of the current harbor structures began in 1902 and was completed by the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“This project reaches far beyond the benefits to the City and local businesses,” said Grant Farrell, Board Chair of the Waukegan Port District. “Waukegan Harbor is one of only a few Harbors of Refuge on Lake Michigan. It is important to maintain the federal channel in ways that do not require costly annual maintenance, and help to avoid unexpected shutdowns due to coastal storms and shoaling.”
Since 1977, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dredged the harbor’s approach channel to maintain sufficient depths for navigation. Since 2009, there has been a marked increase in the amount of sediment being deposited into the harbor’s approach channel and the outer harbor following coastal storms. This accumulation of sediment, known as shoaling, has caused intermittent closures to commercial navigation, resulting in a decrease in harbor use by local industries.
The estimated study cost is $700,000, to be shared 50/50 between the Army Corps and the three non-federal partners. Completion of the necessary coastal modeling and analysis, economic analysis, preliminary design and cost evaluation of the alternatives, and development of the feasibility study report is expected to take about two years.