The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District, Col. Andrew Kelly and the Executive Director for Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Anthony O. Maceira Zayas signed the partnership agreement this week to move forward to the design phase of the San Juan Harbor Navigation Improvements project.
“Today marks an important milestone for the Jacksonville District as we continue to strengthen our partnership with Puerto Rico,” Kelly said. “We look forward to working with the Port Authority as we move forward into the design phase of this important project.”
The $54 million project will improve the harbor by deepening and widening the channels, accommodate existing and future vessel movement, resolve navigation restriction problems, and present opportunities for economic development.
“By widening the existing channels, this project will facilitate that bigger cruise and cargo ships to come in to the San Juan harbor, which is instrumental for Puerto Rico’s economy. This is critical, as it will allow to bring in larger quantities of Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG, thus continuing the implementation of energy-saving solutions for a more resilient Puerto Rico,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares commented.
Maceira Zayas further explained that by allowing bigger ships to enter the San Juan harbor, this project reduces their fuel consumption and emissions.
“Through this project, cruise and cargo ships will also be able to enter and exit the harbor more efficiently, further increasing the safety of maritime operations throughout the entire San Juan bay,” Maceira Zayas added.
The design agreement will allow the district to begin the preconstruction, engineering and design phase of the project. The first construction contract is expected to be awarded in fiscal year 2021, subject to availability of funds. Federal funds for the design phase were provided in the 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, known as P.L. 115-244.
Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón has been an advocate for this project and welcomed the signing of the agreement.
“One of the first issues that I discussed with the Corps of Engineers was the improvements to the San Juan Harbor to allow a greater draft and receive vessels of greater capacity that in turn will increase the economic activity on the island,” said González Colón. “These improvements also help to diversify our energy market by allowing the transit of LNG barges on the island. I am pleased that this project is moving forward as a tool for our economic development.”
The costs for the project are shared between the Corps, $40 million and PRPA, $14 million, per Section 105 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986.
For more information about the San Juan Harbor Navigation Improvements project, visit http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/San-Juan-Harbor.