For Immediate Release
**Joint Press Release**
February 17, 2005
Who: The Port of Oakland and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
What: Signing of Amendment to Project Cooperation Agreement between the Port and U.S. Army
Where: Port of Oakland headquarters, Jack London Square, Oakland
When: Thursday 8:30 a.m. February 17, 2005
Why: To advance the -50 foot Oakland Harbor Deepening Project
Oakland, Calif. (February, 17, 2005) - At 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 17, 2005, the Port of Oakland and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an amendment to the Project Cooperation Agreement that keeps the Oakland harbor deepening project moving forward by allowing the Port to advance its share of the project costs. The Oakland Harbor and Port-maintained berths are being dredged to minus 50 feet. The -50 Foot Project was included as one of nine Priority Projects nationwide for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency in charge of the efforts. The benefit-to-cost ratio of this navigation project is one of the highest in the country at 11-1. That means for every dollar spent on this project it is estimated that it will generate $11 in benefits.
A Project Cooperation Agreement is a formal contract between the federal government and the non-federal sponsor for a federally funded water resources project. The Army Corps of Engineers is the responsible federal agency and the Port of Oakland is the non-federal sponsor.
“The signing between the Port of Oakland and the U.S. Army Corps marks the continuation of this important project,” said Port of Oakland Deputy Executive Director Joe Wong. “The minus 50 Foot project is a significant and unique partnership between business, labor, community, environment and government. As it comes to completion along with all the improvements we have already made expanding and enhancing the port’s maritime facilities, this project will deliver new job opportunities, greater economic vitality to our region, restore wetlands and maintain the Port of Oakland as a key international gateway on the west coast,” Wong concluded.
The Corps of Engineers’ primary mission is to construct environmentally sustainable projects that enhance the Nation’s economic might. This includes providing safe navigable waters to allow unrestricted commerce either through annual maintenance dredging or dredging channels to deeper depths. Recent trends in the shipping industry have shown a continuous shift toward larger and wider container ships, making it essential for the Port of Oakland to be able to accommodate these new classes of ships or risk losing viability. To this end, the Port has partnered with the Corps of Engineers on a channel deepening venture, which has been both challenging and extremely rewarding. The Corps of Engineers continues to work hard to meet the Port’s needs and deliver a quality project, while remaining within budget and simultaneously meeting environmental expectations. The Corps anticipates achieving an interim project depth of minus 46 feet no later than summer of 2005 and intends to continue onto minus 50 feet starting in the fall of this year.
Deepening of Oakland Harbor to –50 feet positions the Port to remain internationally competitive by opening the way for the newer generation of container vessels to call at the Port of Oakland. Project components include slight widening and deepening of the harbor entrance, outer and inner harbor channels, and two turning basins to –50 feet, as well as utility relocations. The Port is also deepening its berths and strengthening its wharves as part of the project.
One of the unique aspects of this project is its beneficial reuse of dredged material to enhance habitat and restore Bay Area wetlands. Initiated by the Corps of Engineers in 1990, the strategy was created as a partnership between federal and state agencies, elected officials, labor organizations, maritime interests, fishermen, environmental organizations and the general public to make available acceptable dredged material disposal alternatives. Deepening of Oakland Harbor will involve dredging some 12.8 million cubic yards of material. One hundred percent of the dredged material will be used for wetlands restoration, habitat enhancement, and upland construction projects in and around San Francisco Bay.
One of the first areas to realize the benefits of this project is Oakland Middle Harbor. Approximately 6 million cubic yards of material will be used to restore approximately 180 acres of shallow water habitat at Oakland Middle Harbor.
The Middle Harbor Enhancement Area will provide potential foraging habitat for the endangered California least tern, spawning habitat for Pacific herring, promote fish production, and provide access to the shoreline and Bay.
The Port of Oakland is the fourth largest containerport in the nation and moves some $30 billion worth of goods annually through the maritime facilities. In conjunction with over $620 million in capacity improvements funded by the Port, the -50 Foot Project will further stimulate maritime business traffic, creating an estimated 9,000 additional jobs and close to a $2 billion increase in business revenue.
Port of Oakland Contact:
Director of Communications
Media/Public Relations Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Contact:
Public Affairs Officer