The Port of Long Beach is kicking off 2023 with plenty to celebrate, as President Joe Biden signed into law the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, the biennial legislation authorizing federal flood control, navigation and ecosystem improvements that include the Port’s Channel Deepening Project.
he Port’s Channel Deepening Project is one of only five navigation projects nationwide that met the goals of the Corps’ rigorous planning process to make the cut for construction authorization under the new water resources law.
This project will widen and deepen the harbor serving one of the world’s top 10 busiest container port complexes. Increasing the safety and efficiency of vessels transiting our waterways supports our mission to remain competitive while reducing pollution from port-related operations.
said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero.
The Port’s Channel Deepening Project has been in the works for more than eight years and is an essential component of the Port’s Master Plan.
Key elements include deepening the Long Beach Approach Channel from 76 to 80 feet, easing turning bends in the Main Channel to deepen a wider area to 76 feet, deepening parts of the West Basin from 50 to 55 feet, constructing an approach channel and turning basin to Pier J South with a depth of 55 feet, improving the breakwaters at the entrance to Pier J, and depositing dredged material in nearshore sites for reuse or in federally approved ocean disposal sites.
The project’s operational benefits include more room for the largest tankers and container vessels to transit the harbor and fewer delays related to tidal flows.
Deeper, wider channels also reduce the need for large vessels to transfer liquid bulk cargo or containers to smaller vessels before entering the harbor. T
he process, known as lightering, ensures large vessels have the underkeel clearance they need to move through the harbor as it is currently configured.
Environmental benefits include lower fuel consumption because ships will be able to maneuver more efficiently through the harbor. Burning less fuel reduces vessel pollution – emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.
The Port is sharing the cost of the $200 million project with the Corps, whose responsibilities include building and maintaining the nation’s waterways.
Setting the stage for congressional authorization, the Corps issued a record of decision in July 2022 endorsing the project based on multiyear environmental and cost-benefit studies of project.
The Corps concluded deepening and widening channels in the harbor would lead to improved vessel navigation, safety, and national economic benefits valued at more than $15 million annually.