The Board of Directors of the NCEast Alliance voted yesterday in support of a resolution requesting emergency funds for dredging at the Port of Morehead City. Significant shoaling is occurring in the cutoff channel to an extent that is negatively impacting the movement of vessels in and out of the port at Morehead City which is creating a drag on the economy.
February 13, 2015 – Greenville, NC – The Board of Directors of the NCEast Alliance voted yesterday in support of a resolution requesting emergency funds for dredging at the Port of Morehead City. Significant shoaling is occurring in the cutoff channel to an extent that is negatively impacting the movement of vessels in and out of the port at Morehead City which is creating a drag on the economy.
Normal channel depth at the port is 45 feet, however, based on the most recent soundings conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers, vessels are restricted to a maximum arrival and departure draft of 36 feet mean high water (MHW) and a maximum departure draft of 33 feet mean low water (MLW). In addition, vessels entering or leaving the port can only be scheduled during daylight hours at the discretion of the pilot.
“The Port at Morehead City provides far more to the economy of the State of North Carolina than it does to the local economy,” said Greg Lewis, Carteret County resident and NCEast Board Member. “That was evident by the numerous specific examples given by so many members of the Board representing numerous counties across all of Eastern North Carolina. I feel that the commitment of NCEast to growing the economy of all of Eastern North Carolina is evident by this body’s commitment to help address this problem,” added Lewis.
The Port at Morehead City is a significant economic driver for the region and state of NC. It is situated within 700 miles of 70% of the industrial base in the US and has rail service provided by Norfolk Southern and vehicular access via US 70. The State has been investing heavily in upgrading US 70 by constructing bypasses to allow increased speeds and mobility.
The port serves a wide array of industries across the region. Including large companies like Potash, one of the largest producers of fertilizer, located in Aurora, NC. Others like Bridgestone, which employs more than 2,000 at its tire manufacturing operation in Wilson NC, Spirit AeroSystems at the Global TransPark, and Nucor, a high-tech steel mill in Cofield, NC are all customers of the Morehead City port.
The 10-foot reduction in channel depth means large port customers such as these are experiencing a significant increase in costs – as much as $2 million per month in the case of PotashCorp.
Congressman Walter B. Jones recently secured an additional $4.1 million from the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Morehead City harbor this year. President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget provides an additional $4,855,000 for dredging the harbor. The additional funds provide the Army Corps of Engineers $8.9 million to perform dredging operations at the Port of Morehead City this year.
In addition to unanimously approving the resolution in support of emergency funds for dredging, the NCEast Board of Directors took further action by creating a committee to address future dredging and other needs of the Port.
“The need for the committee became evident as we considered the long term funding needs at the Port of Morehead City,” said Mark Hamblin, NCEast Board Member. “While we are excited about the funding for dredging in the short term – we want to speak proactively with one voice for all of the stakeholders in eastern NC,” Hamblin added.
The NCEast Alliance is a regional, public/private, not-for-profit, economic development corporation serving approximately 1.2 million residents within several small metropolitan and micropolitan areas in eastern North Carolina from the fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Coast. The Alliance provides community capacity building, marketing/lead generation, and assists companies with site location and expansion evaluations. For more information on the NCEast Alliance, visit us at www.nceast.org or visit one of our workforce development sites (NCEast WorkReady Communities at www.ncworkready.org or STEM East at www.stemeast.org).