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Port of Mobile Signs Final Agreement for $365M Dredging Project

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Col. Sebastien P. Joly, commander of the USACE Mobile District, and John C. Driscoll, CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority (right) (USACE)

By The Maritime Executive 06-18-2020 09:41:00

On Wednesday, the Alabama State Port Authority signed a final agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with a project to widen and deepen the channel for the Port of Mobile. 

Mobile, Alabama's sole deepwater port, has a 45-foot deep channel with a 40-foot deep inner harbor. It is home to the APM Terminals - Mobile container terminal, a cruise terminal and a wide variety of bulk and breakbulk piers. The agreement allows the Corps to move ahead with contracting and construction to deepen the port's navigation channel to 50 feet. Work on the $365 million project will begin by the end of the year, underwritted with a combination of federal and state funding. According to the port, the work will be less constrained by traditional account-specific or single-year work plans and will explore a sequence-driven, logical process. Completion is scheduled for late 2024 or early 2025.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), a longtime advocate for harbor improvements at Mobile, said that the project would improve the state's fortunes. “Today’s signing of the Mobile Harbor Project agreement is yet another milestone in the process of the deepening and widening the Port of Mobile. The completion of this historic project will transform Alabama, expanding economic opportunities throughout our state and the region. Further, the modernization of Alabama’s primary port will increase the United States’ competitiveness in the global market,” said Shelby.

Alabama is supporting the project financially through a $150 million bond issuance, which is backed by proceeds from the state's fuel tax. “Beyond the impact on the local and state levels, the Port of Mobile serves as a catalyst to our nation’s competitive position in the global economy,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. “The Port of Mobile is now poised to become a major hub for export activity, and this is yet another giant step forward in supporting our industries in the Americas and beyond.”

The port has been making additional investments in anticipation of a deeper channel. Over the past year, the Port Authority completed a $50 million expansion that added 20 acres of container handling yard and extended its dock to allow enough berth space for two Post-Panamax boxships. All in all, its prior investments in marine and intermodal facilities total $450 million.