Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seattle Port, Corps of Engineers, Sign Harbor Deepening Deal

By Mark Edward Nero

On Sept. 29, the US Army Corps of Engineers and Port of Seattle signed an agreement that moves forward a $3 million cost-shared feasibility study to investigate potential port deepening alternatives.

“The Port of Seattle greatly appreciates the Corps of Engineers in starting this study,” port CEO Tay Yoshitani said. “This is another step in keeping the Pacific Northwest a competitive trade gateway, and keeping thousands of local jobs here.”

In March 2012, a preliminary Corps report found federal interest in potentially deepening Seattle Harbor’s East and West Waterways. The feasibility study, which was signed by Seattle District Commander Col. John Buck and Port of Seattle Chief Executive Officer Tay Yoshitani, is expected to determine if there’s an economically-justifiable alternative.

The Corps and port are to split the cost equally and the study should be complete in three years. When complete, the feasibility report is to include a net benefit analysis and the required National Environmental Policy Act documentation will disclose any environmental effects of deepening the existing channel.

Currently authorized waterway depths are between -34 and -51 feet mean lower low water; the study will investigate to depths of -55 feet MLLW, taking into consideration economics, cost, risk, environmental aspects, cultural resources, fish habitat, endangered species, geotechnical, coastal engineering and cost engineering.