Delaware River Dredge to Benefit U.S. Economy

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a dredging project that extends over 100 mi. (161 km) of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa., and Camden, N.J., to the mouth of the Delaware B

📅   Mon March 23, 2015 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero - CEG CORRESPONDENT


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a dredging project that extends over 100 mi. (161 km) of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa., and Camden, N.J., to the mouth of the Delaware Bay.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a dredging project that extends over 100 mi. (161 km) of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa., and Camden, N.J., to the mouth of the Delaware Bay.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a dredging project that extends over 100 mi. (161 km) of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa., and Camden, N.J., to the mouth of the Delaware Bay. The pipeline cutter suction dredger “Charleston,” seen here, pumps out to the Army Corps’ Killcohook CDF (confined disposal facility) near Pennsville, N.J. The pipeline cutter suction dredger “Pullen,” near Fort Delaware/Pea Patch Island. The sixth project construction contract will deepen Reach AA. The Walt Whitman Bridge is seen in the background.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a dredging project that extends over 100 mi. (161 km) of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa., and Camden, N.J., to the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

This project involves dredging as needed within the existing 40-ft. (12.2 m) Delaware River federal navigation channel to deepen it to 45 ft. (13.7 m) from Philadelphia Harbor, Pa., and Beckett Street Terminal, Camden, N.J., along a 102.5-mi. (165 km) distance to deepwater in the Delaware Bay.

In addition, it includes appropriate bend widening, partial deepening of the Marcus Hook anchorage, and relocation and addition of aids to navigation. Cutter-suction, hopper, and mechanical dredges will be used to remove material from the channel.

The target completion is 2017.

The deeper channel will provide for more efficient transportation of containerized, dry bulk (steel and slag) and liquid bulk (crude oil and petroleum products) cargo to and from the Delaware River ports, with estimated net annualized benefits of more than $13 million to the U.S. economy.

Under a Project Partnership Agreement signed in 2008, the total cost of initial construction, approximately $300 million, is shared 35 percent by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority as the non-federal sponsor, and 65 percent by the federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

More than 16 million cu. yds. (12.2 million cu m) of material must be removed during initial construction. Of that amount, approximately 12 million cu. yds. (9.2 million cu m) of silt, clay, sand, and gravel will be dredged from the river portion of the project. The bulk of the dredging is being performed by hopper and hydraulic pipeline dredges, with a bucket dredge used for rock removal in the Marcus Hook area.

The river material is being placed at five existing federal upland confined disposal facilities (CDFs) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. All of these sites have been used for channel maintenance ever since it was deepened to 40 feet in the early 1940s and have more than enough long-term capacity to continue in that role for at least 50 years after the deepening is complete.

Of the remaining 4 million cu. yds. (3 million cu m), which is primarily good quality sand from the Delaware Bay, about half will be dredged and placed for initial construction of a beachfill and dune system at Broadkill Beach, Del. (beneficial use for coastal storm damage reduction), and the rest at a CDF at the north end of the bay.

Since FY 99, Congress has appropriated funds for project construction. The Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) between the Corps and the non-Federal sponsor, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA), was executed on June 23, 2008.

“The contracts are not in linear sequence,” said Ed Voigt, chief of public and legislative affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia. “There are a variety of factors as to which one was done first, second, and so forth. Some were environmental, some of it was making the best use of funding available, and that sort of thing. To date, there are seven awarded contracts. Four of those contracts were awarded and completed before the current fiscal year. Of the three remaining, one is finished, one of them is going on right now, and one will get started soon. By the time they’re done, we’ll have spent about $200 million of the $300 million cost of this project, with about $100 million of work left.”

In October 2009, the Corps awarded a contract for the regularly scheduled maintenance dredging of the existing Federal channel. An Option for deepening Reach C was awarded in February 2010. Dredging in Reach C commenced in March 2010 and was completed in September 2010. This contract involved 3.6 million cu. yds. (2.7 million cu m) and was done using a pipeline cutter suction dredge. The contractor was Norfolk Dredging Company, and the cost was $30.1 million.

The second project construction contract awarded was to deepen the lower portion of Reach B. Bids for the contract were opened in July 2011, and the contract was awarded in October 2011 (using accelerated non-Federal funds as there were not adequate Federal funds). Dredging began in November 2011 and was completed in January 2012. The contract involved 0.9 million cu. yds. (688,000 cu m) and was done using a pipeline cutter suction dredge. The contractor was Norfolk Dredging Company, and the cost was $7.6 million.

The third project construction contract awarded was to deepen the upper portion of Reach A. The contract was awarded in July 2012 using FY 12 funds. Dredging began in September 2012 and was completed in February 2013. This contract involved 1.2 million cu. yds. (917,465 cu m) and used a pipeline cutter suction dredge. The contractor was Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, and the cost was $14.5 million.

The fourth project construction contract awarded was to deepen Reach D. The contract was awarded in October 2012 using FY 2013 CRA funds. Dredging began in February 2013 and was completed in November 2013. This contract involved 1.3 million cu. yds. (993,921 cu m) and used a hopper dredge. The contractor was Dutra Dredging Company, and the cost was $23 million.

The fifth project construction contract was to deepen the lower portion of Reach A. The contract was awarded on January 28, 2014. Construction began in July 2014 and was completed in November 2014. This contract involved 0.4 million cu. yds. (305,822 cu m) and used a bucket and hopper dredge. The contractor was Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, and the cost was $14.2 million.

The sixth project construction contract will deepen Reach AA. The contract was awarded in May 2014 using FY 2014 funds. Construction started in September 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in March 2015. This contract will involve 0.7 million cu. yds. (535,188 cu m) and will use a bucket and hopper dredge. The contractor is Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, and the cost will be $25.4 million.

The seventh project construction contract will deepen the lower portion of Reach E with beneficial use of dredge material at Broadkill Beach. The contract was awarded in June 2014. This contract utilized FY 2014 and FY 2015 CRA funds of $35 million. Construction began in January 2015. The contract will involve 1.9 million cu. yds. (1.5 million cu m) and will use a hopper dredge. The contractor is Weeks Marine Inc., and the cost will be $63 million.

An additional $62.5 million, recently allocated to the project for the current fiscal year (2015), will be combined with PRPA’s non-Federal share to fund the next contract — for rock removal in the vicinity of Marcus Hook, Pa., planned to begin late this year.

Pending adequate funding (about $30 million), all that would remain to achieve the deepening target completion of 2017 are dredging contracts for upper Reach B and for upper Reach E.

Channel maintenance after initial construction will involve an estimated 4.3 million cu. yds. (3.3 million cu m) of expected annual volume, which is approximately a 20 percent increase over the 40-ft. channel volume of 3.5 million cu. yds. (2.7 million cu m).