Army Corps of Engineers releases Tacoma Harbor Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment

A public meeting is scheduled for Jan. 15 about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Tacoma Harbor Navigation Improvement Project draft feasibility report and draft environmental assessment (EA). Sessions begin at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Moore Branch of the Tacoma Public Library in Tacoma, Washington.

The meeting will focus on the Corps’ draft report and draft EA resulting from a General Investigation of dredging the Blair Waterway to improve navigation at the Port of Tacoma. Corps officials will begin each session with an open house followed by a presentation and an opportunity to comment on the Corps’ report.

The draft report, draft EA and appendices are available to review online or at Seattle District’s website by clicking on “Tacoma Harbor Navigation Improvement” under “Most Requested".

The Corps is accepting public comments on the draft report and EA for a 60-day period beginning Dec. 18, 2019, and ending Feb. 16, 2020. Comments will be accepted at the meeting via comment card and orally. Comments will be accepted via email to TacomaHarbor@usace.army.mil or can be mailed to:

ATTN: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
CENWS-PMP
P.O. Box 3755
Seattle, WA 98124-3755

All mailed comments must be postmarked by Feb. 16, 2020.

Read the summaries of the draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment.

Jan. 15 information meeting schedule

2 p.m.                 Questions and answers at open house
2:30 p.m.            Presentation from Corps of Engineers representatives
2:50 to 4 p.m.     Public comment period

5 p.m.                 Questions and answers at open house
5:30 p.m.            Presentation from Corps of Engineers representatives
5:50 to 7p.m.      Public comment period

Information Meeting Location: Tacoma Public Library Moore Branch, 215 South 56th St., Tacoma, Washington.

Background

A feasibility cost sharing agreement between the Corps and the Port of Tacoma to study navigation improvements at Tacoma Harbor was signed in August 2018. The study investigates navigation improvements to the Blair Waterway to achieve transportation cost savings (increased economic efficiencies) for larger vessels calling at the Port of Tacoma. The feasibility study analyzes alternatives associated with opportunities for channel deepening in Tacoma Harbor.

The Blair Waterway is currently authorized to -51 feet mean lower low water (MLLW). In the past decade, ships calling at Tacoma Harbor have increased in size and draft at a dramatic pace. The larger vessels have draft requirements deeper than -51 feet MLLW when fully laden, and therefore will face tidal delays and other transportation inefficiencies when arriving and departing the waterways. Tacoma Harbor is a rapidly expanding major port in Washington state, ranking as the 28th largest U.S. port in terms of total tonnage, and the fourth largest container gateway.

The draft feasibility study determined there is a federal interest in participating in a cost-shared modification of the existing Tacoma Harbor project in the interest of navigation improvements and water resource development opportunities. The draft report and draft EA also identify a tentatively selected plan to deepen the existing channel to an authorized project depth of -57 feet MLLW, expand channel widths ranging from 450 feet to 865 feet, and expand the turning basin boundary to a diameter of 1,935 feet. Under the least cost disposal option, approximately 2.4 million cubic yards (cy) of dredged material would be placed in the Commencement Bay open water disposal site and approximately 392,000 cy would be placed at an upland facility. In addition, the Saltchuk site, located northeast of the Blair Waterway, is a potential location for beneficial use of dredged material for environmental benefits.  Although not the least-cost disposal option, the tentatively selected plan includes additional evaluation of beneficial use of approximately 1.85 million cy of dredged material at the Saltchuk site based on preliminary analysis and results.

Contact

Public Affairs Office
206-764-3750
paoteam@nws02.usace.army.mil