The Importance of a Wider and Deeper Channel

Over the past decade, maritime freight transportation has trended towards larger and larger ships, resulting in the need for wider and deeper channels nationwide.  Our current channel poses navigational challenges to larger vessels, particularly related to vessel draft, and the ability to safely maneuver within the current channel footprint.  Larger log and chip vessels moving in and out of the Port must synchronize passage with high tides, and often leave the port in a light loaded condition to reduce draft.  Vessels that are light loaded are less efficient and generates higher cost for our shippers.

Modification of the channel will provide multiple opportunities for economic development in the South Coast.  The increase in width and depth will allow existing and projected future cargo vessels to have less restricted access to berths and terminals, reducing delays and increasing the efficiency of port operations. The channel modification will also increase loading efficiencies for existing and future cargo vessels, which would allow industries to transport freight at lower unit costs.  The Port’s goal is to promote the use of Coos Bay’s deep-water port in order to strengthen the development of a stable, diversified, and healthy regional economy while improving the quality of life in the region.  Reducing the cost of transporting goods to and from international markets improves and preserves competitiveness for U.S. goods.

Why Now?  

There is a significant need in Oregon for maritime import and export capabilities. A recent study conducted by the State of Oregon estimates that annually, the equivalent minimum of 38,170 40-foot containers of goods are exported from the mid and southern Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, and the Oregon coast to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. This means Oregon goods must first travel out of state by truck or rail to reach international markets.   Agricultural and natural resource based industries in Oregon are struggling to move their goods to world markets in a timely and cost-efficient manner. International shipping markets are continuously evolving, which presents competitive challenges in maritime commerce.   These challenges present an opportunity to examine the needs of Oregon’s current import and export markets.  It is imperative to evaluate alternatives that are potentially more beneficial for the movement of Oregon goods to foreign markets.  The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay and the Southern Oregon Coast are at a transformative point in their history, and poised to tackle freight mobility challenges.

Why Coos Bay?

Coos Bay’s channel is ideally located on Oregon’s southern coast.  Our Port is one of the largest coastal deep-water channel from San Francisco to the Puget Sound.  The navigation channel is just 15 miles long, taking only 2 hours to reach open ocean from river mile 15.  The geographic location of the Port of Coos Bay is optimal for shipping to Asian and other international markets.  Coos Bay has access to a comprehensive multimodal transportation network including convenient access to maritime, rail, air, and highway modes.  The Port owns over 600 acres of greenfield, developable industrial lands on the North Spit alone, within both Free Trade and Enterprise Zones, and the North Bay Urban Renewal Agency boundary. 

The Project

The Port of Coos Bay is proposing to deepen and widen the Federal navigation channel through its Coos Bay Channel Modification Project.  The Port is currently in the engineering and design phase of the Coos Bay Channel Modification project and is coordinating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since they play several roles in the area, including new long-term maintenance of the channel.  This project will expand the existing channel from -37’ depth and 300’ width to -45’ depth and 450’ width from the channel entrance to river mile 8.2.  The channel modification project is instrumental in facilitating future economic development in Oregon and will accommodate the growing global fleet.  The last deepening project modifying the Coos Bay Navigation Channel was from 1996 to 1998, increasing the authorized channel depth from -35’ to -37’.  The Coos Bay Channel Modification Project requires authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies.  The Port will obtain all necessary permits and authorizations for the project and conduct the dredging activities.

Project Timeline

Proposed Navigational channel modification footprint shown below

channel info

The project is still in its engineering and design phase.  Under the proposed schedule, dredging activities are slated to begin in late 2020 and conclude in 2024.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the potential impacts associated with the project.  There are still a number of approvals and permitting steps that need to be completed before the project can move forward.  Public participation and comment opportunities as defined by federal laws will be followed by the Corps during development of the Environmental Impact Statement and during Corps permitting processes, and will be defined and published by the USACE and other regulatory agencies as a part of the Environmental Impact Statement and during Corps permitting processes.  At several stages in the EIS process, the Corps will host public meetings to provide information about the EIS process, answer related questions, and gather community input and comment regarding the EIS.  Information about the initial NEPA scoping meetings will be posted on the Port of Coos Bay’s Website:

Project Cost

Modification of the Coos Bay Navigation Channel is anticipated to cost approximately $350-$400 million.  The project will be funded through a combination of public and private investments.  


Learn more about the project and/or submit public comment by visiting the USACE website for the Coos Bay Channel Modification project at .

USACE Public Scoping

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a comprehensive environmental impact statement to evaluate the impacts of the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay's proposed modification to the lower Coos Bay Federal Navigation Channel. The Corps welcomes discussion and substantive input from the public, local and state agencies and organizations at this open house-style meeting, through the scoping comment period and at other project milestones. News Release