U.S. Army Corps signs off on Port of Nome expansion
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the Port of Nome modification feasibility study with a signing ceremony in Washington D.C. last week and the project now advances to Congress for authorization and funding. It will be considered for inclusion in the upcoming Water Resources Development Act.
The estimated cost for the port expansion is $491 million. The project, if authorized by Congress, will be cost shared with the City of Nome as the non-federal partner, with the non-federal cost share pegged at $122 million.
According to a press release from the City of Nome, the signing of the report is the last step in a lengthy Corps process. “This is a very welcome step, which has taken over 10 years since the project was first conceptualized by the City of Nome,” the press release says. “The planned project will alleviate existing vessel restrictions caused by insufficient depths and dock space, and provide the first refueling and resupply port in the U.S. Arctic for deep-draft vessels.”
The alternative selected would extend the current west causeway and adding an L-shaped extension, deepen the basin to -40ft Mean Lower Low Water and removing and replacing the current breakwater to extend to a total length of 3,900 ft. Dredging would be required to deepen and maintain both basins and associated navigation channels. The City’s release said that the increased depth “will provide shore-side support for research vessels, cruise ships, oil tankers, and most importantly, USCG icebreakers and national security cutters, as well as U.S. Navy vessels.”
“We’ve developed a feasible engineering solution that provides safe, reliable and efficient navigation improvements to support a critical region of the state,” said Col. David Hibner, acting commander of the Alaska District.
“The Corps’ history in Nome dates back to the construction of the original harbor in 1917,” Hibner said. “We’ve been there from the start and are committed to assisting the community with navigation improvements that are built to last.”