Col. Sebastien Joly and James Lyons sign PED agreement at the Alabama State Port Authority’s headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Alabama State Port Authority)
Ports & Terminals

Corps, Alabama Sign Mobile Harbor Agreement

Leaders of the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) and the Mobile Engineer District jointly signed the Mobile Harbor Pre-Construction, Engineering and Design Agreement October 2 at ASPA’s headquarters in Mobile. The engineering and design phase establishes the construction parameters to deepen and widen Alabama’s only deep-water seaport.

The agreement was signed by James Lyons, ASPA director and CEO, and Mobile District Commander Col. Sebastien Joly.

The South Atlantic Engineer Division endorsed the harbor-deepening plan on September 6 (WJ, September 16.)

“This agreement is a critical step toward realizing the port’s ability to accommodate the larger ships serving the world’s major trade lanes, while improving vessel transit efficiencies and safety in our port,” said Lyons.

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Under the Corps’ Record of Decision, the project will deepen the existing bar, bay and river channels by 5 feet each to a project depth of 50 feet, with additional depths for wave allowances, advanced maintenance, and allowable overdepth for dredging (total depths of 56, 54, and 54 feet, respectively).  The project also includes widening the bay channel by 100 feet for three nautical miles to accommodate two-way vessel traffic and other safety improvements.  Construction on the modifications is expected to begin in late 2020.

The harbor improvement project is keeping pace with ongoing terminal investments in the Port of Mobile to ensure economies of scale and competitive rates for the seaport’s shippers.  The port authority will complete its $50 million, Phase 3 container terminal expansion in early 2020, delivering another 20 acres of handling yard and extending the dock to allow simultaneous berth of two Post-Panamax-sized ships. The project complements prior investments totaling $450 million in marine and rail container intermodal facilities that include two Super Post-Panamax and two Post-Panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes.  “As demand dictates, we’re positioned to respond quickly to further expansion,” Lyons said.

Fueled by growth and shipper demand, the port authority requested the Corps initiate the necessary studies to widen and deepen the harbor.  Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in March of this year signed into law the Rebuild Alabama Act, a bipartisan measure passed by the Alabama State Legislature, that allocates a portion of state fuel tax proceeds to support approximately $150 million in bonds to meet the federal cost-share requirements for the harbor project.

Caption for photo: Col. Sebastien Joly and James Lyons sign PED agreement at the Alabama State Port Authority’s headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Alabama State Port Authority)