Dear Colonel Joly,
We write to offer our comments in support of the Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) identified in the Draft Mobile Harbor, Mobile, Alabama Integrated General Reevaluation Report with Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
The Port of Mobile (Port), operated by the Alabama State Port Authority (Authority), is currently the 10th largest seaport in the United States and has been identified as the fastest growth container terminal in North America. In any given year, between 52-67 million tons of cargo moves through the Port. The Authority's container, general cargo and bulk facilities have immediate access to two interstate systems, five Class 1 railroads, and 15,000 miles of inland waterway connections. To keep up with demand, the Authority has invested more than $700 million towards a capital expansion program to establish additional facilities, including new steel and container terminals, an expansion of the coal terminal, a rail ferry terminal, new warehouses, two "super Post-Panamax" cranes, and an automobile roll-on/roll-off terminal. While these additions have improved the safety and efficiency of the Port for many of our constituent companies, there is still a vital project that must be completed to ensure the competitiveness of the Port in an increasingly global marketplace.
Currently, the Port maintains an average depth of 45 feet and width of 400 feet. Due to the expansion of the Panama Canal, the marine fleet is continually trending to larger, deeper-draft vessels. Without critical port and waterway improvements, these larger ships will continue to experience transportation delays and inefficiencies due to the limited channel depth and width. As such, we applaud your efforts thus far to study the engineering, economic, and environmental impacts associated with the deepening and widening of the existing navigation system.
Modernizing the capabilities of one of the nation's largest seaports will spur exponential economic investment by allowing larger ships and more goods to be shipped and sold, facilitating and expanding commerce. We believe that the TSP accomplishes these goals in a manner that is economically and environmentally responsible, and encourage the Corps to move forward to attain the Agency Decision Milestone and to expeditiously deepen and widen the federal channel.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and please let us know if we can provide any additional information.