Tacoma dredging plan ready for Congressional consideration

The Tacoma Harbor Navigation Improvement Project reached a major milestone last week with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon’s signing of the project’s Chief of Engineers’ Report May 26.

This sets the stage for Congress to consider action to authorize and fund the project to deepen the Blair Waterway enabling the Port of Tacoma to handle new, larger container ships.

“The Seattle District conducted a multi-year study to address the port’s need to accommodate future generations of container ships,” said Col. Alexander L. Bullock, Seattle District commander.

“The robust analysis shows it is both economically and environmentally feasible and may result in cost and time savings, lowering project operations and maintenance costs, as well as allowing for the removal of draft restrictions for certain vessels.” 

“This project represents a vital partnership between the USACE and the Port of Tacoma. Completion of the waterway deepening will greatly improve the ability of the Port and The Northwest Seaport Alliance to remain competitive and provide greater economic benefits and job growth for our entire region,” added Don Meyer, Port of Tacoma Commission President. 

The Blair Waterway is currently authorized to 51 feet, the proposed project would deepen the channel to 57 feet so larger vessels will be able to use the waterway.

In addition to deepening the waterway, the draft integrated feasibility report and environmental assessment recommends a plan to expand channel widths ranging from 450 feet to 865 feet and expand the turning basin boundary to a diameter of 1,935 feet. 

Photo: Philipp Tintner USACE