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Baltimore Harbor and Channels General Reevaluation Study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District is currently partnering with the Maryland Port Administration on the Baltimore Harbor and Channels 50-Foot Project General Reevaluation Study. This study is evaluating the feasibility of improvements, including potentially widening different sections, to the existing deep-draft channels in Maryland and Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Patapsco River that lead in and out of the Port of Baltimore and other measures for continued safe and efficient waterborne commerce.

The Baltimore Harbor and Channels 50-Foot project was authorized by Section 101 of the River and Harbor Act of 1970 (Pub. L. 91-611), as amended by Section 909 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986. The project was recommended for phased construction in 1985 via a supplement to a 1981 General Design Memorandum (GDM). The 1985 Supplement recommended a phased implementation to “hasten commencement” of the project, with the second phase being implemented “at a future date to be determined.”

Phase I of project implementation provided a 50-foot deep main shipping channel from the Virginia Capes to Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. In addition, the project includes the Curtis Bay Channel, the East Channel, and the West Channel, which are dredged to depths of 50 feet, 49 feet, and 40 feet, respectively, with all three channels authorized to a width of 600 feet. Due to financial and dredged material placement capacity constraints at the time, several channel components of the 50-foot project were not constructed to the authorized widths during Phase I. Two of the three 1000-foot wide Virginia channels were constructed to a width of 800 feet, the 800-foot wide Maryland channels were constructed to 700 feet, and the 600-foot wide Curtis Bay Channel was constructed to a width of 400 feet.

Phase II may widen some, none, or all of those channels to their originally authorized widths or be implementation of other measures depending on the recommendation of the Baltimore Harbor and Channel 50-Foot Project General Reevaluation Study.

The ongoing study is evaluating the technical feasibility, environmental acceptability, and economic justification of implementing Phase II of the Baltimore Harbor and Channels 50-Foot Project or other measures to provide for safe passage of ships utilizing these navigation channels.