Private Sector Partnerships Sought for Port Dredging Options
January 27, 2014 - SCMR Editorial
Seaports across the nation are confronting one similar challenge: how to develop a sustainable strategy for distributing dredged materials.
The Port of Baltimore believes partnering with private-sector third parties is the answer.
Continuing their commitment to attract private-sector expertise to address unique transportation challenges, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Port Administration (MPA) recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking ideas and best practices for converting material dredged from Baltimore Harbor shipping channels into an environmentally-safe aggregate used in the construction / building industries.
MPA is exploring the potential of developing a public-private partnership (P3) to take material already placed at the Cox Creek Dredged Material Containment Facility and convert it into a light-weight aggregate used in masonry blocks, concrete, hot-mix asphalt and geotechnical fill.
“Dredging is the lifeline of the Port of Baltimore,” says MPA Executive Director James J. White. “Without properly maintained shipping channels, the huge ships of today and supersized ones of tomorrow could not safely travel to and from the port.
With a 50-foot-deep shipping channel, Baltimore is one of only two ports on the U.S. East Coast currently able to handle large Super Post-Panamax ships that will use the newly enlarged Panama Canal when construction is completed by 2015. To maintain these shipping channels, approximately 1.5 million cubic yards of material must be dredged from the Baltimore Harbor annually. Dredged material from the Harbor is then placed at containment facilities, including Cox Creek and Masonville.
While capacity remains at these sites, the MPA has been investigating best practices to increase dredged material placement capacity while researching possible beneficial reuse ideas.
The MPA successfully completed a demonstration project in January 2012 by converting dredged material into a light-weight aggregate. The RFI will help the State determine if there is a cost effective and competitive marketplace for the environmentally-safe aggregate.
Now that the RFI responses have been received, MPA will analyze the industry feedback to determine the potential for a P3 and develop next steps for a possible solicitation process. MPA is targeting late winter 2014 for a decision regarding next steps for a potential solicitation process.
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