Port of Oakland and US Army sign Oakland Harbor Deepening Project Amendment

Funding Amendment allows project to advance

On February 17, 2005, the Port of Oakland and the US Army Corps of Engineers signed an amendment to the Project Cooperation Agreement that keeps the Oakland harbor deepening project moving forward by allowing the Port to advance its share of the project costs.

The Oakland Harbor and Port-maintained berths are being dredged to minus 50 feet. The -50 Foot Project was included as one of nine Priority Projects nationwide for the US Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency in charge of the efforts. The benefit-to-cost ratio of this navigation project is one of the highest in the country at 11-1. That means for every dollar spent on this project it is estimated that it will generate $11 in benefits.

A Project Cooperation Agreement is a formal contract between the federal government and the non-federal sponsor for a federally funded water resources project. The Army Corps of Engineers is the responsible federal agency and the Port of Oakland is the non-federal sponsor.

“The signing between the Port of Oakland and the US Army Corps marks the continuation of this important project,” said Port of Oakland Deputy Executive Director Joe Wong. “The minus 50 Foot project is a significant and unique partnership between business, labor, community, environment and government. As it comes to completion, along with all the improvements we have already made expanding and enhancing the port’s maritime facilities, this project will deliver new job opportunities, greater economic vitality to our region, restore wetlands and maintain the Port of Oakland as a key international gateway on the West Coast,” Wong concluded.

The Corps of Engineers’ primary mission is to construct environmentally sustainable projects that enhance the Nation’s economic might. This includes providing safe navigable waters to allow unrestricted commerce either through annual maintenance dredging or dredging channels to deeper depths. Recent trends in the shipping industry have shown a continuous shift toward larger and wider container ships, making it essential for the Port of Oakland to be able to accommodate these new classes of ships or risk losing viability. To this end, the Port has partnered with the Corps of Engineers on a channel deepening venture, which has been both challenging and extremely rewarding. The Corps of Engineers continues to work hard to meet the Port’s needs and deliver a quality project, while remaining within budget and simultaneously meeting environmental expectations. The Corps anticipates achieving an interim project depth of minus 46 feet no later than summer of 2005 and intends to continue onto minus 50 feet starting in the fall of this year.

Deepening of Oakland Harbor to -50 feet positions the Port to remain internationally competitive by opening the way for the newer generation of container vessels to call at the Port of Oakland. Project components include slight widening and deepening of the harbor entrance, outer and inner harbor channels, and two turning basins to -50 feet, as well as utility relocations. The Port is also deepening its berths and strengthening its wharves as part of the project.