The Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, officially signed the Chief of Engineers Report for the San Juan Harbor Navigation Improvements Study August 23.
The Chief’s signing of this report is a significant milestone for Puerto Rico, and addresses harbor improvements such as deepening and widening the channels, accommodate existing and future vessel movement, resolve navigation restriction problems, and present opportunities for economic development.
The Chief’s report will now go to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), and then to the Office of Management and Budget for review. After these reviews, the report is sent to Congress for future authorization.
“If authorized and funded, this improvements project will bring great economic value to the nation, and support ongoing long-term post Hurricane Maria recovery in Puerto Rico,” said Jacksonville District Commander Col. Jason Kirk.
The planning, engineering and design phase could start as early as 2019, subject to funding, and the Corps anticipates completion of this phase in two years. Construction of the project is subject to authorization and appropriations and would likely take 3 years to complete.
San Juan Harbor currently suffers from some known shipping inefficiencies due to limited channel width and restrictions that don’t allow two-way traffic. Certain sizes of container and cargo vessels can’t exit the port through the Graving Dock area due to limited depth and width, and have to turn and transit near the Army Terminal, which creates delays with incoming ships using the same channels.
The Harbor is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico and is the island’s principal port. The majority of the commonwealth’s waterborne cargo and cruise ships pass through the harbor, handling more than 75 percent of the Commonwealth’s non-petroleum waterborne commerce.