Army Corps of Engineers Releases Draft Feasibility Report for New York & New Jersey Harbor Deepening and Channel Improvements

Published Nov. 10, 2020
Updated: Nov. 10, 2020
The container ship CMA/CGM Brazil enters the New York Harbor.

The CMA/CGM Brazil is the largest-capacity container ship to enter the Port of New York and New Jersey. The Brazil’s arrival was made possible as a result of the Harbor Deepening Project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (USACE) New York District has prepared an Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment (IFR/EA) that evaluates a range of nonstructural and structural measures with the potential to improve navigation efficiencies within the New York and New Jersey Harbor.  Currently, existing federal channels are constrained given the increasing size and number of vessels plying port waters, impacting harbor transport operations, and reducing vessel safety and cargo transportation efficiency.  Trend data on vessel size growth and increasing cargo coming into the port are foundational factors in the need for the study.

“This is an extremely important and timely report that looks at a variety of options  to enable the major port facilities in New York/New Jersey Harbor and Channels  to efficiently and safely accommodate the largest container ships in the world.” said Colonel Matthew Luzzatto, Commander, USACE, New York District.  “ USACE and the Port Authority have worked diligently to evaluate a wide range of alternatives that focus on a future vision for the port and estuary that encompass safe navigation, thriving economy, and a continuously improving environment.” He said.

“The continued success of the Port of New York and New Jersey is tied directly to the economic health and vitality of the region, which benefits from more than 500,000 jobs supported by the seaport as well as billions in tax revenue, business and personal income generated by maritime activity,” said Sam Ruda, Port Director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “The Harbor Deepening Channel Improvement Feasibility Study is a crucial step in securing the port’s future as we collectively work to improve global reach of the largest and busiest container per ton port on the East Coast and ensure that 46 million people within the seaport’s reach have access to critical supplies, food, and goods. We look forward to working closely with USACE on the completion of this Feasibility Study.”

The measures considered include channel widening, deepening, and bend easing, improving vessel scheduling, relocating navigation aids, and increasing tugboat assistance. All of the measures evaluated are focused upon the existing federal channel system in the harbor. No new channels have been recommended.

The study considers changed conditions and/or assumptions since a feasibility study was completed over 20 years ago in 1999.  Containerships now calling at the Port of New York and New Jersey are significantly larger in their length and width dimensions and carry significantly more TEU’s (Twenty Foot Equivalent containers) than the design vessel used over 20 years ago. As the shipping industry evolves, with the number of larger vessels numbers expected to grow rapidly, the port system is seeing operational constraints for safety that are affecting efficient use of channels requiring modifications in cargo loading and delivery options.

The Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment evaluate the need and options for a more efficient channel system capable of safely accommodating the vessels navigating the NYNJ Harbor at present and reasonably projected to be navigating them in the future. USACE is the lead federal agency and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is the non-federal sponsor for the study. 

The Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) could deepen channel pathways to Elizabeth – Port Authority Marine Terminal and Port Jersey – Port Authority Marine Terminal by up to 5 feet (to a maintained depth of -55 feet MLLW), with attendant widening in the Ambrose Channel, Anchorage Channel, the Kill van Kull, Newark Bay Channel, South Elizabeth Channel, and Elizabeth Channel, and Port Jersey Channel. Channel configuration designs are seeking methods to avoid and minimize environmental and cultural resource impacts while still meeting navigation safety requirements.

The report is out for 45 day public comment through 19 December and may be found at the Corps’ website:

Public Affairs

Release no. 20-042