Official websites use .mil
Secure .mil websites use HTTPS
The existing Federal navigation project includes roughly 70 miles of channels. The main stem channel that leads into the Tampa Bay port system is approximately 42 miles long, 500 feet wide, and 43 feet deep. This single stem channel must be transited not only by vessels going to and from the Port of Tampa, but also vessels going to and from Port Manatee, St. Petersburg Harbor, and Weedon Island. The single stem is comprised of nine cuts: Egmont Key 1, Egmont Key 2, Mullet Key, and Cuts A to F.
Port Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest port in cargo tonnage and land area. It serves as a major cruise port and services a diverse mix of bulk, break-bulk, container commodities, and energy products that serve central Florida. The port contributes over $17 billion in economic impact supporting more than 85,000 jobs. The Tampa Harbor Federal Navigation Channel was last deepened in 1970.
Since the construction of Tampa Harbor, vessels in the world fleet have become both wider and deeper. To maintain safety, existing vessels transiting Tampa Harbor are only able to load to a fraction of their designed capacity due to the channel’s existing dimensions. This results in more vessels transiting to carry a given quantity goods, leading to increased transportation costs that are passed on to the consumer. Eventually, depth limitations in Tampa Harbor will prevent larger vessels calling at other Gulf of Mexico and eastern U.S. ports from calling at Port Tampa.
Due to channel width limitations that prevent two vessels from safely passing within the channel, all vessel traffic in the channel is one-way. This creates congestion and delays of six to 12 hours as vessels must wait for other vessels to meet, pass, overtake, or transit in the opposite direction.
This study will analyze and combine measures to develop alternatives to meet project objectives and to address one or all of the identified problems. The alternatives will be evaluated and compared according to Corps planning principles. The Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) will be identified as the plan that reasonably maximizes net benefits, contributes to National Economic Development (NED), and is consistent with protecting the nation's environment, pursuant to national environmental statutes, applicable executive orders, and other Federal planning requirements. The TSP may also provide other benefits to the community, depending on the plan. The Corps qualitatively describes other benefits of the plan based on the four Principles and Guidelines “accounts” outlined in Federal law (the Water Resources Development Act of 1986): NED, Environmental Quality (EQ), Other Social Effects (OSE), and Regional Economic Development (RED). The EQ account is largely documented through the NEPA analysis, which considers both adverse effects and positive benefits (e.g., habitat creation through the beneficial use of dredged material. An example of OSE benefits includes the reduction of vessel traffic in the Bay that allows for improved recreational opportunities for boaters. RED benefits typically include job creation and enhanced efficiencies in associated shipping/transportation sectors.
Authority for the Tampa Harbor Navigation Improvement Study is granted by the House of Representatives Congressional Resolution 2533, 105th Congress (1997): “Resolved by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the United States House of Representatives, That the Secretary of the Army review the report of the Chief of Engineers on the Tampa Harbor, Florida, published as House Document 401, 91st Congress, Second Session and other pertinent reports, with a view of determining if the authorized project should be modified in any way at this time, with particular reference to a deep draft anchorage.”
Corps feasibility studies under this authorization are by law required to be completed in three years and with $3M or less, unless an exception is requested and approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works (ASA(CW)). The study will examine alternative solutions and recommend one plan that meets Corps criteria to be the Tentatively Selected Plan. If the alternative is supported by Corps decisions makers, the Chief of Engineers will submit a report to Congress recommending it for authorization. The plan would need to receive Congressional authorization and appropriations for construction. Construction costs would be cost shared between the Corps and Port Tampa Bay according to Corps policy.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE/Corps) navigation mission is to provide safe, reliable, and efficient waterborne transportation systems. This mission is one of the oldest Corps missions and stems from the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
The purpose of the Tampa Harbor Navigation Improvement Study is to determine a plan that is in the Federal Interest to reduce navigation transportation costs and improve navigation efficiency within the Federal Tampa Navigation Channels in Tampa Harbor. The study will result in an Integrated Feasibility Report (IFR) with the findings and recommendations developed during the study.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a Federal law enacted in 1969. As required by NEPA, the Corps will assess potential environmental effects of alternatives (including historic and cultural resources). The NEPA analysis will be integrated into the IFR, and the draft version of the IFR will be made available for public review and comment before any decisions are made or actions are taken. Your input helps the Corps in identifying key environmental issues that may need to be evaluated.
Port Tampa Bay is the non-Federal sponsor for this study.
WRDA Section 1002 Notificaion Letter to Port Tampa Bay, 28 January 2022