U.S. Army Corps Gets $14B for Ports, Waterway and Costal Investments

US Army Corps receives funding for port and waterways improvements
Among the port projects is $8 million for improvemtns to navigation in Long Beach, California (file photo)

Published Jan 19, 2022 1:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

The White House announced today the next phase of investments planned to enhance America’s waterways and ports to strengthen the supply chain as well as repair damage and provide future defense against flooding and other impacts of climate change. The Biden Administration said it will devote $14 billion to the efforts drawing funding from the 2021 Infrastructure Law and the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The new funding which will be used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in addition to the projects funded by the Department of Transportation at the end of 2021.

“Decades of underinvestment and neglect have left our nation’s infrastructure – from ports and waterways to levees and dams to the aquatic ecosystems that supply our water and energy – vulnerable to climate change and struggling to keep up with our strong economic recovery from the pandemic,” the White House said in a briefing announcing the new investment program. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will use funding from the two pieces of legislation they said to, “increase climate resilience and make long overdue improvements at ports and waterways.”

The Biden Administration outlined plans to invest more than $14 billion in fiscal year 2022 for over 500 projects across 52 states and territories. The U.S. Army in detailing its total budget for the Civil Works studies, projects, and programs that will be implemented in Fiscal Year 2022 said the total investment from the two pieces of legislation would total $22.81 billion this year with additional plans to be announced for FY 2023 and 2024.

A broad range of projects will be funded specifically aimed at U.S. ports. In total, the Army Corps says the infrastructure legislation will provide funding for the completion of 15 feasibility studies, preconstruction engineering and design for five projects, and 19 construction projects, as well as 22 new projects that will be funded in the construction account.

Among the big winners under the plan are the ports of Long Beach, California and Norfolk harbor in Virginia. The government will invest an additional $8 million into the Port of Long Beach to improve commercial navigation and allow larger and more ships access to the port. It will include design work to widen the port’s main channel, deepen the entrance channel and build an approach channel and turning basin. In December 2021, MARAD announced $52.3 million in funding for dockside projects for Long Beach’s new rail facilities and California has also announced funding for the port.

On the East Coast, the government will invest $69 million to improve navigation and expand capacity at Norfolk, Virginia. Work will include deepening and widening the harbor’s shipping channels to improve navigation and enable safer access for larger commercial and naval vessels.

America’s inland waterways will also receive significant investments. Among the projects will be $858 million to support the replacement of locks on the upper Ohio River west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that permit large cargo ships to operate in the area. They will also provide more than $470 million to complete construction of a new lock along St. Mary’s River in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, which serves as a passageway for nearly all domestically-produced iron ore.

Nearly a third of the funding for the Army Corps focuses on damage and protection from climate change. This includes the largest single investment ever to restore and revitalize the Everglades in Florida as well as an investment in the San Juan Bay National Estuary. The Army Corps will fund studies of proposed projects in Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania that all suffered significant damage due to 2021’s Hurricane Ida. Funding includes $868 million for rehabilitation and projects to repair damages on the Mississippi River and its tributaries as well as other construction of qualifying flood and storm damage reduction projects.