Summit in Miami Focuses on Dredging and Reclamation
Joe Miller, Jacksonville Port Authority.
The International Quality & Productivity Center (ICPC) hosted the Dredging & Reclamation Summit, on March 31 through April 1, at the Hyatt Regency Miami in Florida, gathering dredging industry professionals to address important issues for the profitability and quality assurance of dredging projects.
Joe Miller from the Jacksonville Port Authority (Jaxport) started off day one with a discussion of the changing landscape of today’s ports and the need for port deepening, in relation to the U.S. economy. The second part of his discussion looked at Jaxport’s plans for expansion, as it readies its services for the Panama Canal expansion.
Jaxport is the westernmost port on the East Coast, last deepened in 2010 to 38 feet. Miller said the port completed a four-year feasibility study, with plans to deepen to 47 feet by 2035. The project would involve minimal mitigations for wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation and local fish species. The biggest challenge for the project is funding. The plans have been set, starting with the relocation of the Mile Point training wall in the St. Johns River. The $36 million project will remove 3,110 feet of existing training wall and land and build two new wall, one western wall at 4,250 feet and one eastern at 2,050 feet to improve flow in the channel, allow larger vessels to make that turn in the river, and restore 53 acres of marshland. The port would like to start the project this summer; however, it is pending Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorization.
Luis Prieto y Muñoz, president of Piedroba Consulting Group.
Next, Luis Prieto y Muñoz, president of Piedroba Consulting Group, addressed the 2013 WRDA/WRDDA bill and different sections that could affect capital dredging projects. In addition to which version of the bill will pass, he noted that a big question remains about project authorization under the new WRDA in the post-earmark era, which Muñoz said has triggered a paradigm shift in federal navigation projects. However, the new WRDA does have quite a bit to champion for the dredging industry, including new paths to funding projects.
Sec. 2004 addresses the need for greater transparency in prioritizing projects for funding; Sec. 2019 gives the Corps more authority to work with state and local sponsors, and authorizes planning assistance for states; Sec. 2049 includes a plan for deauthorizing projects on the massive backlog of funding obligations, including a Congressional review panel to look at the projects; Sec. 2025 and 2026 create a federal pilot program for implementing non-federal projects; Sec. 2027 is an attempt to review and revamp the public private partnership process, increasing efficiency and protection of the non-federal sponsor; Sec. 2024 details a Corps study to look at innovative international dredging techniques; Sec. 2038 amends a previous WRDA and allows the Corps to coordinate project for specific issues, such at the work done for Sandy restoration.
Jon Conn, P.E., director of port restoration, Mississippi State Port Authority.
In addition to developing more funding pathways for non-federal sponsors, the most recent WRDA also addresses federal funding, namely using 100 percent of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for its intended purpose. For more on WRDA, see the article in this issue, page 33, and the November/December 2013 issue, page 6.
Joe Conn, P.E., director of port restoration for the Mississippi State Port Authority, discussed the Port of Gulfport restoration program. The Mississippi State Port Authority is the 3rd busiest container port on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and the 2nd largest importer of green fruit in the U.S. After Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage at the port in 2005, it embarked on a restoration, which included raising elevation the of the West Pier from 10.5 feet to 14 feet above sea level, upgrading wharfs, building new shore protection and new infrastructure for equipment and facilities for its tenants. Raising pier elevations included filling a 24-acre area, which was completed in 2013. Other phases of the project will continue through 2015.
Bob Randall, director for Dredging Studies and professor at Texas A&M University.
Wendell Mears from Anchor QEA, LLC, followed up with a discussion of the Deer Island beneficial use project, and the history of beneficial use at the Port of Gulfport. At Deer Island, the new dredged material encouraged circulation and habitat development and the plans worked to mimic the historic 1850s footprint. The Deer Island Marsh project was originally created from 2001 to 2003 and required restoration after Hurricane Katrina, which was completed in 2012.
Aaron Budge, Ph.D., P.E., from Minnesota State University gave a general discussion about using modeling to assess geotechnical properties and sediment characterization, including the sediment characteristics and soil parameters that are input into geotechnical models, how these inputs will impact different analyses, and the affects of pore pressure generation and dissipation on models, as well as any other parameters that may impact geotechnical analyses.
Becky Hope, port environmental manager for Port Miami, outlined the Miami Harbor deep dredge program, deepening overall from 44 feet to 52 feet. The project involves one base contract and two additional options, which were awarded in January 2014. The port share of the project funding is $37 million and Hope said the port worked closely with the Corps to advance the federal share of the project at $75 million. In addition to dredging five million cubic yards, the project involves extensive environmental mitigation, including 16.6 acres of seagrass bed restoration, relocating 710 corals, all hard corals greater than 25 cm (about 9.84 inches), and creating more than eight acres of artificial reef.
Wendall Mears, Anchor QEA, LLC.
Other speakers at the conference included Bob Randall, director for Dredging Studies and professor at Texas A & M University, who assessed the differences between open-water disposal and confined disposal, including many of the important numerical models used for analysis; Ray Wood, vice president of Fugro Consultants, Inc., who evaluated geophysical and CPT techniques, and integrated strategic approaches to reduce the geotechnical risk in site characterization; Gary La-Grange, chief executive officer of the Port of New Orleans, who addressed successful procedures for port expansion and reclamation; and Andrew Jirik, environmental specialist & project manager for the Port of Los Angeles, who discussed management strategies for a PCB TMDL.
The two-day conference included networking breaks and lunch each day to give attendees, many port authorities, engineers, port operators, construction companies and dredging contractors, a chance to meet each other and further discuss the important issues from the speakers.
Ray Wood, vice president of Fugro Consultants, Inc.