AAPA Seaports Advisory

Dredging: Boston

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Massport Board Approves Funding to Begin Boston Harbor Dredging Project

The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Board on March 24 voted to approve to execute a project partnering agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to start the Boston Harbor Dredging Project.

A signed agreement allows the ACOE to bid contracts for construction on a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) cell, which is needed for the maintenance dredging of the Inner Harbor Main Ship Channel.

Maintenance dredging will restore the inner harbor to 40 feet and is the first phase of the larger dredging project. Without maintenance dredging, the harbor will continue to silt, leading to increased transit times, economic inefficiencies, and navigational safety concerns. This portion of the harbor was last dredged in 1986.   

"The maintenance dredging and associated construction on CAD cell by the Army Corps of Engineers will allow for the terminals on the Chelsea Creek and Mystic River, including the Commonwealth energy corridor, to continue to operate in the most efficient manner; providing the region with a multitude of bulk products," said Massport Port Director Lisa Wieland.

The CAD cell is a key factor in the maintenance dredging of the inner harbor ship channel, which will ensure vessels carrying home heating oil, salt, Logan Airport’s jet fuel, and cars to Autoport can continue to get to terminals on the Chelsea and Mystic Rivers. Massport and MassDOT agreed to pay $5 million, while the Corps will spend $12 million from its FY 2016 Work Plan for the design and construction. CAD cells have been constructed in Boston Harbor for past dredging projects.

In June 2014, President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) into law and specifically mentioned Boston in his remarks on water infrastructure and harbor deepening projects across the country. The $310 million Boston Harbor Dredging Project will deepen the main channel used by container ships from the existing 40 feet up to 51 feet.

The ACOE estimates that every dollar invested for dredging the inner and outer channels of Boston Harbor will yield nearly $7 in economic return. The Port of Boston is currently responsible for $4.6 billion of economic activity in New England and 50,000 total jobs. Each year, more than 1.5 million metric tons of cargo passes through Massport’s maritime terminals.

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