The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) signed the Chief’s Report Apr. 16 on deepening and widening portions of the Lake Worth Inlet, Palm Beach Harbor.
The Chief’s Report outlines the major national benefits of the project including transportation cost savings and increased economic efficiency of the port. The inlet’s primary problems include economic inefficiencies exacerbated by channel and turning basins that don’t meet current world fleet requirements.
With the signing of the report, the Corps is stating that the proposed deepening and widening plan is environmentally sound and economically beneficial. The Chief’s Report will now go to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) for review, then to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, and then be transmitted to Congress for authorization.
The Lake Worth Inlet study examined improvements to the federal navigation project at Palm Beach Harbor, which hasn’t seen any improvements in more than 50 years. The existing channel is 33 feet deep and 300 feet wide – too shallow and narrow for modern-sized vessels. The team formulated plans to widen and deepen the channel to improve ship maneuverability and safety. An improved advance maintenance plan will decrease operations and maintenance events, resulting in annual savings of approximately $850,000 for the federal government.
The recommended plan will deepen the entrance channel from 35 to 41-feet and widen it from 400 to 440-460 feet, plus a southern approach flare; deepen the inner channel from 33 to 39-feet and widen it from 300 to 450-feet; deepen the main turning basin from 33 feet to 39 feet, and extend the southern boundary of the turning basin an additional 150 feet. Suitable material will be placed in the nearshore, adjacent to the beach, or beneficially used for proposed mitigation; unsuitable material would be taken to the Palm Beach Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site located approximately four miles offshore.
Jacksonville District is ready to move forward quickly. “Once authorized and funded, we can immediately begin the pre-construction, engineering and design (PED) phase, and proceed to contract procurement, which will take approximately two years. The construction phase could take an additional two years, or more, depending on the phasing of the work, which we’ll address during our PED phase,” said Corps Project Manager Laurel Reichold.
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Release no. 14-020