Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced that they have filed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would increase the prospects of securing federal funding for the Delaware River dredging project.
Casey, Toomey and Coons' amendment would shift already appropriated funds in the Army Corps of Engineers budget to navigation projects aimed at increasing traffic efficiency on our Nation's rivers. Adding more funds to the navigation account increases the likelihood that federal funds may be available to dredge the Delaware River in fiscal year 2012.
"Deepening the Delaware River is important to the economy of our entire region," Senator Coons said. "I was glad to partner with my colleagues from Pennsylvania on this amendment because deepening the river is important to both of our states. It is our hope that this additional funding will allow the Administration to continue to invest in the Delaware River deepening project and help create jobs by allowing new trade opportunities for our local businesses."
"The Delaware River Deepening Project will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Philadelphia and increase the economic competitiveness of the region," said Senator Casey. "I am committed to doing everything in my power to try to direct federal resources to this project."
"Deepening the Delaware River is critical to our regional economy's future success. To help our companies compete and export, we need the port infrastructure to do so. I hear from employers all the time about how important this is, and I'm committed to making it happen," Senator Toomey said.
This project deepens the Delaware River Channel from forty to fort-five feet in order to accommodate larger vessels. This will reduce shipping cost, make maritime transportation more efficient and make the channel safer and more reliable. Once the channel is deepened, there will be an estimated increase of 2.5 million tons of cargo to the Port of Philadelphia, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs. In addition, this project will create thousands of short-term jobs that aid an industry that has suffered significantly in this economic climate.
Investing in this project will help to alleviate the high unemployment rate in the region. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was 8.4 percent in September. This translates into 248,808 people being out of work in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington region.
Ports along the east coast are going to see increased traffic once the expansion of the Panama Canal is complete. Increasing funds for navigation projects will help to ensure that ports are able to grow and compete.