Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oakland Port Receives $18M in Maintenance Dredging Funds

The Port of Oakland’s self-titled 50-Foot Harbor Deepening Project, aimed at maintaining the depth of the port's waterways to accommodate the largest classes of container vessels, is set to receive $18 million in operations and maintenance from the US Army Corps of Engineers’ fiscal year 2011 work plan.

The funding for the project, which the port considers vital to maintain its competitiveness, will come from the federal Harbor Maintenance Fund. The fund is financed through a federal tax on imported containers.

The current port waterway depths of 50 feet were accomplished through a decade-long $433 million project that was completed in 2009. The new funds will be used to counter the natural silting of the port waterways and maintain the 50-foot depths.

Work on maintaining the 50-foot depths at the port will begin later this year.

"We greatly appreciate that Congresswoman Barbara Lee and the entire Bay Area Congressional Delegation stepped up and helped the Port achieve this critical funding to keep the Oakland harbor navigable and safe for the efficient flow of commerce,” Oakland Board of Port Commissioners President James Head said.

In a statement, port officials also pointed out that dredging offers environmental benefits via habitat and wetland restoration. As an example, port officials cited the Hamilton Wetland Restoration Project, which received dredged material from the Oakland harbor deepening project. The restoration project, according to the port, has helped with flood damage reduction and ecosystem restoration.

Port officials also said that deeper waterways allow for larger vessels.

"Larger ships carry more containers providing an important reduction in fuel use and air emissions per transported container," a port statement said.