Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that the Delaware Deepening project will receive a record $97.5 million during the next year. The project, which will spark significant job creation and revitalize the Port of Philadelphia, has never received such a significant investment in one year. The funds, which have received final approval, come from Congress’ recently passed omnibus appropriations bill and a decision by the Army Corps to direct unallocated dollars in its yearly work plan to the project. The announcement comes after Senator Casey weighed in with the Army Corps on its unallocated funds and discussed the project with senior Administration officials. The record breaking sum will move the project towards 2017 completion and will allow the Port of Philadelphia to compete with other ports across the country who can accommodate larger ships.
“This is a milestone moment for the effort to deepen the Delaware and sustain the Port of Philadelphia’s role as a driver of economic growth for the entire region,” Senator Casey said. “I’ve discussed the project to deepen the Delaware with President Obama and Vice President on many occasions and I appreciate their personal attention to this issue. We’re in the red zone in terms of getting this project completed.”
“The Delaware River project will enhance the capacity of Philadelphia’s port to receive even larger ships and boost our region’s share of imports and exports,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Philadelphia is a critical hub along the East Coast of the United States for importing goods like perishables and chilled cargo. With the increased resources to finish the project in 2017, our City stands to gain jobs and an even better position from which to welcome international vessels. I thank Senator Casey for his advocacy on this issue on behalf of all Pennsylvanians.”
“Federal funding for the continued deepening of the Delaware River Main Channel is welcome news for our region’s ports, maritime industry, and economy as a whole. I applaud the Administration and our elected leaders in Congress for their leadership and commitment to this important project which will enhance the competitiveness of Greater Philadelphia.” – Rob Wonderling, Chairman of the CEO Council for Growth, an affiliate of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
“The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) believes this announcement sends a strong signal to the shipping community that we are well on our way to completing the channel-deepening project,” said Charles G. Kopp, PRPA chairman. “Today is yet another great day for this project.”
“This appropriation is great news for the project, and we salute Sen. Casey and all the members of the hard-working team who helped to make this possible,” said James T. McDermott Jr., PRPA executive director.
Currently, the Port of Philadelphia supports over 8,100 direct jobs and over 30,000 indirect jobs. These well-trained employees earn family sustaining wages. Dredging the Delaware is essential to preserving and growing these jobs. Combined with the Port of Wilmington, these ports create over $1 billion in business revenue on an annual basis. The ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington are major economic drivers in the region and the federal government must continue to invest in this project.
The upcoming completion of the expansion of the Panama Canal will open up a more efficient trading route between the East Coast and the western region of South America along with East Asia. The Panama Canal expansion will also result in larger vessels coming to the East Coast. The expected increase in traffic presents an economic opportunity for ports along the eastern seaboard. Post-Panamax vessels have drafts deeper than forty feet and Philadelphia must be able to draw new business to its port. Additionally, the size and draft of cargo vessels continue to grow. In order to maintain its customer base, secure new contracts and have the ability to increase its exports, Philadelphia’s main shipping channel must be deepened. This will put Philadelphia at a strong competitive advantage. If Philadelphia does not have the ability to receive Post-Panamax container ships, industry will turn to other ports that can.
Casey Record on Deepening
- Senator Casey has helped to secure over $125 million for the Delaware Deepening Project since taking office
- Senator Casey has led efforts by the Pennsylvania and Delaware Congressional delegations to seek funding for this project in the past few years and has advocated for funding for this project to U.S. Army Corps, OMB, and Administration officials. This includes correspondence, conversations and meetings with Vice President Biden, OMB Director Shaun Donovan, Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy and other high ranking members of the Administration.
- In October 2014, Vice President Biden visited the project at Senator Casey’s invitation to express support for completing the project on schedule
- Senator Casey, Senator Coons and Senator Carper sent a letter to President Obama on the FY 2016 funding level in November.
- Senator Casey called OMB Director Donovan in November to push for a strong investment in the FY 2016 President’s Budget.
- Senator Casey met with Assistant Secretary Darcy in December to push for a strong investment in the FY 2016 President’s Budget.
- Senator Casey sent a letter to Denis McDonough in January pushing for the project in the FY 2016 President’s Budget and in the FY 2015 Army Corps Work Plan
- Senator Casey sent a letter to Assistant Secretary Darcy pushing increased funding to be allocated to the project in the FY 2015 work plan.
- Senator Casey spoke to OMB Director Donovan in January to reiterate his support for the project.