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Port of Oakland basin project would speed processing for larger ships

The public can now comment on a study of the Port of Oakland seeking to enlarge turning basins as to accommodate larger ships.

The comment period opened Monday on the Integrated Feasibility Report and National Environmental Policy Act Environmental Assessment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It remains open until Jan. 31, 2022.

Larger ships already use the Port but narrower turning basins cause delays and maneuvering issues. Ships three times the size of vessels the basins were designed for are now utilizing the Port.

Port officials want to attract more of the larger ships, Port spokesman Robert Bernardo said. Ships are going to continue getting larger, he added.

Port officials want to widen the inner and outer harbor basins to accommodate ships as long as 1,310 feet. The turning basins are now designed for ships 1,100 feet in length.

The difference is a carrying capacity of 12,500 twenty-foot equivalent units. The larger ships can carry 19,000 units while the smaller ships can carry 6,500 units.

Dredging could start in 2027 and be complete in 2029, Bernardo said.

Larger ships are calling on Oakland because it is the shortest distance from the U.S. to Asia and an agricultural gateway from American to Asia.

Oakland is a short distance from Wine Country, part of the agriculturally rich Central Valley, and the Salinas Valley, known as the “salad bowl of the world.”

More than a decade ago the Oakland Harbor was deepened to minus 50 feet to allow for larger, longer ships. The deepening and widening are meant to continue the Port’s benefit to the area economy.

About 84,000 jobs in the Bay Area depend on the Port and it’s business partners.

Bernardo said of the widening project:

This is about our seaport business,”.

For more information on how to view the report, go to https://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects-and-Programs/Projects-A-Z/Oakland-Harbor-Turning-Basins-Widening/.

A public meeting on the project is set for Jan. 12. To register, go to: https://portoakland.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0ud-qurDwuHdD1UN-NAUL1PlmdezRhuZQk.

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