After the issue of deepening the Delaware River shipping channel was debated for almost three decades, and finally agreed upon a few years ago, the project is now nearing completion.
Almost 85 percent of the 103-mile navigation channel has already been deepened from 40 feet to 45 feet, writes Linda Loyd of the Philadelphia Inquirer. And the final $55 million in federal funding has been secured to finish the job.
Labor, business, and government leaders came to the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in South Philadelphia to celebrate the milestone.
“Completing this project will mean more ships, more cargo, more commerce, and more jobs,” Jerry Sweeney, chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, told the Inquirer.
The entire $300 million deepening that began in 2013 should be completed by late 2017.
According to Loyd, Sen. Robert Casey (D., Pa.) told the crowd, “This is a project about the future, and about jobs. This will be the most significant job creation potential of anything we could do in the region.”
Port officials believe a deeper river channel should put more cargo on ships coming into the ports and allow larger ships to sail the river.
Now, large ships have to be careful coming up the Delaware. Some transfer cargo onto smaller vessels before coming upriver.
With deeper water, Philadelphia could be a ship’s first port of call, instead of second or later.
Ships are getting bigger, and the largest U.S. ports already have deeper water.
Click here to read more about the deepening of the Delaware River shipping channel.