Dredging is a demanding task – but for a port to deliver more and better economic benefits to its region, it has to take on the tough projects, and dredging is one of them.
By Lori Musser—
Every port, even those fortunate few carved deeply by receding glaciers, have to dredge at some point. It is a demanding task – but for a port to deliver more and better economic benefits to its region, it has to take on the tough projects, and dredging is one of them.
Bringing leadership, commitment, collaboration and money to the table help ensure success. These projects are simply too resource-intensive and time consuming to make a mistake.
Back in 1968, a container ship carried less than 1,600 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Today, there are 20,000+ TEU newbuilds. The vessels of today have evolved to create economies; a 50-year-old channel depth cannot accommodate them.
“Do we need to deepen every port on the East Coast? No, but there may be a need for several deep ports in an area,” said Tim Murphy, deputy district engineer for programs and project management at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville District office.
When Congress decides the Corps should study a project, it does a multi-port analysis. “Once you land cargo, it has to be sent to the hinterland. If you drive the cargo from, for example, Savannah to Jacksonville, it takes two hours by truck. That’s a lot of the total cost of shipping.” There are strong economic arguments for ports even closer than Savannah and Jacksonville to be deepened, Murphy said.