WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Each year, billions of dollars worth of goods flow into the country through the Port of Wilmington. Congressman David Rouzer stopped by the port on Friday to take a look at the new growth and expansion happening down on the river.
There’s already projects in the works like the expanded new security area and entrance to the port, as well as repaving of container yards, but the big thing Rouzer is looking forward to is the deepening of the harbor.
Brian Clark, the executive director of the Port of Wilmington, said while they are bringing in some of the biggest ships – they could be doing more.
“So the ship behind us is actually one of the largest that calls on the East Coast today and the challenge that shippers have is that they can’t utilize them to their full capacity – it’s a 14,000 TEU vessel but they are not loaded down to their max depth.”
Toured the Port of Wilmington today and received an update from their leaders on the Port’s deepening project.
I am proud to support this project that will help to strengthen the Port of Wilmington as a hub of economic activity for Southeastern North Carolina and our nation. pic.twitter.com/EvVeIWkxZa
— David Rouzer (@RepDavidRouzer) August 20, 2021
Of course, any project of this kind is going to be expensive. One suggestion as far as funding goes is the proposed infrastructure bill in Washington but Rouzer is not convinced we will see it move forward.
“We’ll see what happens with the infrastructure bill that the Senate passed. I’m not certain that anything will take place in the House, I’m not certain that they have the votes to bring it to the floor, so we’ll have to see how all of that moves forward,” he said.
Despite his uncertainty on the bill, another bill that has passed does include $500,000 for the Wilmington port.
“The energy and water appropriations bill, completely separate from the major infrastructure bill that people are talking about right now – we were very pleased to get $500,000 included in that appropriations bill specific to the environmental study that needs to be completed to deepen the harbor here at the port,” Rouzer said.
When it’s all said and done, the harbor deepening will cost millions of dollars and take several years to complete but Rouzer said it’s something that has to be done.
“The purpose is you have to be able to compete with all the other ports around the country and in order for this port to remain competitive, it’s going to be advantageous to have the extra 5 feet,” he said.
Right now the ships that dock in Wilmington are not loaded to their maximum capacity, but that additional five feet could make all the difference to put Wilmington’s port ahead of the pack.
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