Delaware River dredging project 60% done

Originally from the Courier Post

A massive project to dredge the Delaware River’s shipping channel is now about 60 percent complete, officials said Wednesday.

Dredging crews completed an 11-mile stretch of the channel off the Delaware Coast in late May, according to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. That stretch was the fourth to be dredged since the project began in spring 2010.

The $300-million dredging is focused on the 102-mile shipping channel between Delaware Bay and the South Jersey-Philadelphia ports. The channel is being deepened by five feet, to 45, in order to accommodate larger ships.

The next portion of the dredging, off the Delaware coast, will begin this summer. The rest of the project, including the area between Camden and Philadelphia, is expected to be finished by 2017.

“After years of discussions and hurdles, it’s wonderful to finally see steady progress on this critical project,” PRPA Chairman Charles G. Kopp said in a statement.

PRPA, an independent agency, is funding about 35 percent of the project. The Army Corps of Engineers is covering the rest.

The project was delayed by a years long legal challenge from critics concerned about its expense and potential environmental risks. A federal appeals court in July 2012 rebuffed separate legal challenges by a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the state of New Jersey.

Dredging was already underway in Delaware state waters at that time.

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