Port Tampa Bay Finishes Major Dredging Project One Year Early

Big Bend Channel, center, with Port Redwing (Audobon Florida)

By The Maritime Executive 04-19-2019 06:35:21

Port Tampa Bay's long-anticipated Big Bend Channel Expansion project is complete a year ahead of schedule. The $63 million project will allow larger ships to call at the port's terminals at Port Redwing. 

"This is one of the largest projects we have worked on at Port Tampa Bay," said Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson. "This is a legacy that truly reshapes our economic landscape and will impact generations to come."

The U.S. Corps of Engineers' Jacksonville District awarded the Big Bend contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Docks Company, which started project work in October 2018. Great Lakes completed dredging last week, fully a year ahead of schedule. It was slated as an 18-month project.

Funding for this project is supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Transportation, Port Tampa Bay and two of the largest port users, Mosaic and Tampa Electric.

Port Redwing is approximately 270 acres of Port Tampa Bay property in southern Hillsborough County. The area is expected to develop into a major hub for warehousing and distribution within the next decade. This area is served by the Big Bend Channel, which connects to the main channel in Tampa's harbor. The channel also serves separate private terminals for Mosaic and Tampa Electric.

The project deepened the Big Bend Channel from 34 to 43 feet. It widened the entrance channel from 200 to 250 feet for a length of 1.9 miles, and it deepened the existing turning basin to 43 feet.

The port says that migratory birds will also benefit from the project. The Corps of Engineers has built two large dredge spoil islands in Hillsborough Bay, which are popular nesting sites for skimmers, oystercatchers, terns and gulls, among other species. The islands are off-limits to the public and are considered among Florida’s most important sites for colonial beach-nesting birds. The Big Bend Project dredged up about 3.4 million cubic yards of material, enough to add another 100 acres of potential nesting area to one of the spoil sites. 

Dozens of birds at the new dredge spoil area (social media)