Last Friday, President Joe Biden signed the 2022 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), which lawmakers included in the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023.
According to the Army Corps, the bill authorizes $140 million for the Tacoma Harbor Navigation Improvement Project.
The port’s Blair Waterway is currently authorized to 51 feet. Deeper drawing vessels already call at the waterway’s terminals but face tidal delays and other transportation inefficiencies. The proposed project will deepen the channel to 57 feet so larger vessels can use the waterway.
In the past decade, ships calling at Tacoma Harbor increased in size and draft at a dramatic pace. The larger vessels draft requirements are deeper than 51 feet when fully laden.
USACE estimates there will be a $10 economic benefit for every dollar spent on the project, which will improve the port as a critical gateway for import and export of goods moving between Asia and the U.S. Midwest.
Corps officials expect to place about 2.8 million cubic yards of dredged material at a beneficial use site. Approximately 562,000 cubic yards of dredged material will be placed in the Dredged Material Management Program (DMMP) Commencement Bay open water disposal site and another 392,000 cy at an upland facility. USACE is investigating location options to use the environmentally beneficial remaining materials.