The Port of Long Beach and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public meeting in February to evaluate potential improvements to the harbor, under the “Port of Long Beach Deep Draft Navigation Feasibility Study and Channel Deepening Project.” A feasibility study and environmental impact report will be prepared for the project, and the meeting helped gather input from the public regarding which environmental issues should be examined.
As part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process, an initial Notice of Preparation was released in 2016 for this project. The Amended Notice of Preparation (NOP), released on January 29 reflects a new project title and removes a previous plan to dredge the Port’s Southeast Basin.
The updated project area includes Port of Long Beach channels and berths serving Pier J, Pier T/West Basin, anchorage area adjacent to the main channel, the main channel, and the approach channel extending seaward from the Queen’s Gate opening of the Long Beach Breakwater.
Container movements along the secondary channels serving Pier J and Pier T/West Basin and liquid bulk vessel movements along the main channel have been identified as constrained by current conditions. Navigation improvements for liquid bulk vessels include deepening the Approach Channel (extending seaward from the Queen’s Gate opening of the Long Beach Breakwater) up to 80 feet below mean lower low water (MLLW) and building an anchorage area for very-large liquid bulk vessels adjacent to the Main Channel to a depth of up to -76 ft MLLW. Navigation improvements for container vessels include deepening the Pier J approach channel, berths, and building a turning basin to Pier J up to a depth of -57 ft MLLW.
Navigational improvements for container vessels will also include deepening the Pier T/West Basin and berths up to -57 ft MLLW.
The exact depths of dredging will be determined based on an economic analysis of costs and benefits, but are not expected to exceed the depths given above. An estimated total volume of up to 8.3 million cubic yards of material would be dredged. The expected volume of dredge material has decreased by approximately 1.6 million cubic yards since the 2016 notice of preparation (NOP) was issued. Dredging would be performed by clamshell, hydraulic or hopper dredge barges.
Potential disposal locations for the dredged material may include, but are not limited to, designated U.S. EPA ocean disposal sites LA-2 (offshore of Los Angeles/Long Beach) and LA-3 (offshore of Newport Beach), surfside borrow pits off Huntington Beach/Seal Beach, and port fill sites.
In addition to the dredging, improvements may needed at several of the berths within the project areas to accommodate the proposed dredge depths. Types of modifications may include installation of piling, steel bulkheads, rock toes and other structural modifications to reinforce the wharf design.
A new dredge electrical substation may be constructed landside within the harbor district to provide electricity to the dredge equipment that is not able to access the existing dredge electrical substation on Pier T.