Delaware Public Media: Sen. Carper seeks to make Port of Wilmington projects a priority

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) welcomed leadership from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Port of Wilmington Monday.

Delaware’s senior senator sought to spotlight some projects needed to help the port grow to Army Corps’ new North Atlantic Division Commander Major General Jeffrey Milhorn, and its new Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. David Park.

The Army Corps is almost finished a nearly decade-long dredging project that’s deepened the Delaware River from 40 to 45 feet up to Philadelphia.  And Milhorn recognizes that type of work is crucial to allowing new, larger ships to use ports along the Delaware – including the Port of Wilmington.

“As we see the industry changing, going from 14,500 TEUs to up to 22,00 – and I’m sure someone’s exploring even beyond that size – of course, there’s a requirement to deepen federal channels and other channels that support the ports, and enable those type of operations,” said Milhorn.

Carper says the Delaware River dredging, combined with a planned port expansion at the former DuPont Edgemoor site upriver, makes working with Army Corps on needed projects important.

“There are thousands of jobs that flow from this port and as the port is expanded up to north, there will be thousands of additional jobs.  The way this happens is a partnership – a public/private partnership with the Army Corps hugely involved,” said Carper.

Work to create an access channel between the Delaware River’s main channel and the port’s $410 million Edgemoor expansion is among the projects that will involve the Army Corps. And one local and port officials hope will be a priority.  The portion of the Christina River that serves the current port needs to remain at 38 feet deep.

The Edgmoor expansion is part of the 50-year Port of Wilmington lease deal Delaware signed with United Arab Emirates-based Gulftainer last year.