The project to deepen the Delaware River navigation channel will receive $29.25 million in the Army Corps of Engineers’ current fiscal year work plan. That money, combined with $33 million in funding carried over from 2016, is the final federal money needed to complete the channel deepening from 40 feet to 45 feet that began in March 2010.
The last steps will include more rock blasting near Marcus Hook beginning in December and ending in March 2018, as well as dredging the upper Delaware Bay and an 11-mile stretch between Chester and Wilmington, said Ed Voigt, public affairs chief for the Army Corps’ Philadelphia District. One side, or direction, of the shipping channel between Chester and Wilmington will be at least 45 feet by the end of the year to allow larger ships to sail the Delaware, Voigt said. The entire $392 million project between Philadelphia and the Atlantic Ocean will be completed sometime in 2018, Voigt said.
“This news comes at the perfect time,” said Jeff Theobald, CEO of the Port of Philadelphia recently renamed PhilaPort. “The completion of the channel deepening in conjunction with Governor Wolf’s $300 million investment towards improving land-side infrastructure, will enable our Packer Avenue Marine Terminal to be the first terminal on the river to accept the larger vessels.”
PhilaPort Chairman Jerry Sweeney thanked the elected officials who made it happen. “The bipartisan work done by our congressional delegation to get the federal funds released cannot be overstated,” he said.