San Juan, Puerto Rico., Jan. 31, 2023 – The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District and Puerto Rico Port Authority joined forces in a brief ceremony and signed a Project Partnership Agreement as a way forward towards the improvement of San Juan Harbor, in San Juan, Puerto Rico Jan. 30, 2023.
During the ceremony the Governor Puerto Rico Pedro R. Pierluisi, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Hon. Michael L. Connor, Puerto Rico Port Authority Director Joel A. Pizá-Batiz and U.S. Congresswoman Puerto Rico Jenniffer González Colón praised the great collaboration the USACE employees and the importance of the project, how it will impact navigation and provide economic benefits to the island.
“The port facilities are clearly part of the most important infrastructure in Puerto Rico” Said Governor Pierluisi, “This agreement and the construction of this project will greatly benefit our economic activity, reducing the costs of transportation of products and fuel”
The Jacksonville District completed a feasibility study on Aug. 23, 2018, that recommended a plan to improve the economic efficiency of commercial navigation in San Juan Harbor. The harbor currently experiences known shipping inefficiencies due to limited channel width and depth and navigation restrictions. Existing cargo shippers experience increased operation costs due to light loading, vessel size limitations, and congestion delays. Cruise vessel operators experience increased in-port maneuvering costs due to channel and turning basin width and depth constraints. Bulk fuel importers, experience increased operation costs due to vessel size limitations.
The recommended plan includes widening and deepening the inner harbor channels that lead to cruise ship and petroleum terminal operators. Project features include deepening of the existing entrance channel from -42 feet to -46 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW); widening the Army Terminal Channel from a 350 foot width to 450 feet wide; deepening the inner harbor Anegado and Army Terminal Channels from -40 feet to -44 feet MLLW; enlarging the northern terminus of the existing Army Terminal Turning Basin with two flares, one to the east and one to the west; deepening the San Antonio Approach Channel, San Antonio Channel, and San Antonio Channel Extension from -35 feet to -36 feet; expanding the Federal project limits 1,050 feet to the east of the San Antonio Channel Extension; and deepening the Cruise Ship Basin East from -30 feet to -36 feet MLLW.
During the speech Michael L. Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works showed the commitment of the U.S. Government, The Army and USACE to complete this project.
“What’s more exciting is to be able to highlight progress, another Army Civil Work projects that supports the economic development priorities of PR elected leaders that benefit not only the general economy, but obviously the over 3 million of Puerto Ricans who are American citizens” Mr. Connor said “Let’s talk about the Improvement Project itself: it’s impressive $45M of bipartisan infrastructure law, investment opportunity to first and foremost improve the efficiency and safety of the port. This expansion will Improve supply chain, particularly the container port. 75% of PR’s non petroleum products come thru this port. It will expand the tourism industry. It will support the short and long term energy goals that I know the administration and government share.”
The project was authorized for construction in the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-270). The Preconstruction, Engineering, and Design Phase of the project was completed in January 2023. The project received $45,561,000 under the FY2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The San Juan Harbor project will be completed with one construction contract, which is scheduled to be advertised in March 2023, with Notice to Proceed expected by June 2023.
“I have to say that all the projects that we have achieved together with the Corps of Engineers have received the largest amount in Federal Funds in this term, more than $3 billion exclusively for the Corps of Engineers” said Congresswoman Gonzalez, “The improvements that are going to be made here in terms of depth and widening will allow each of the vessels that enter PR to have more space each time they turn, enter and exit and make more cash in economic terms if they transited in PR . This improvement work will result in improving the Service to operators who are in the Zone, in the receipt of merchandise, equipment, raw materials and what is exported.”
The construction contract is expected to have a duration of approximately 14 months and will include maintenance dredging to bring the project to full depth throughout the inner harbor channels.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District on the district’s website at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JaxStrong.