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Channel Modification Project

The Importance of a Wider and Deeper Channel

For decades, maritime freight transportation has trended towards larger and larger ships, resulting in the need for wider and deeper navigation 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. 

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Modification of the channel will provide multiple opportunities for economic development on 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 on the U.S. west coast for maritime import and export capabilities. The Port is working with NorthPoint Development in a public/private partnership to construct a state of the art, rail served container terminal on Port owned, industrially zoned waterfront property.  This project is of national significance and will result in an investment of $2.3 billion in Coos, Douglas, and Lane Counties.  Once constructed, the terminal will result in approximately 2,500 direct, long-term jobs and 6,900 indirect jobs.  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 channels 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

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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:

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The project is still in its engineering and design phase.  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 $550 million.  The project will be funded through a combination of public and private investments.  

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