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The corps of engineers/port of anchorage connection: q&a with Stephen Boardman.

Stephen Boardman, chief of the civil project management branch for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska, discussed the Corps' role in the expansion of the Anchorage Port.

ABM: How deep, how far offshore and how often has the Corps had to dredge near the present port location?

Boardman: Annual maintenance dredging occurs from May 1 to Nov. 1 along the existing dock face to no more than 1,000 feet off shore. Dredging is performed to the minus 38 feet Mean Lower Low Water elevation. The Cook Inlet Navigation Channel is about 6 miles from the port and was dredged in 1999 and 2000.

ABM: What role has the Corps performed in the port expansion, and what will it do there in the future?

Boardman: The Corps is not involved in the site preparation, type or location of the new dock facility. The Corps' most publicly known role is in its regulatory capacity to issue a Department of Army (DA) permit. The U. S. Maritime Administration, in partnership with the Port of Anchorage, is performing the design and construction of the new dock facility and the fill behind it. The work requires a DA permit, which the Corps' regulatory division has issued.

The Corps' second role is maintaining a federal navigation project to provide safe passage across the Knik Arm mudflats for commercial vessels accessing the dock facilities. Since MARAD is building a new dock, this results in a modification to the existing federal navigation project. The Corps must ensure dredging adjacent to the new clock will not compromise its structural integrity, disrupt navigation by commercial users, adversely impact the environment or create future maintenance inefficiencies.

The Corps' regulatory, engineering, environmental and operations elements are collaborating on a review of MARAD's preliminary dock design by the Corps Engineering Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss., to determine how close to and how deep the Corps can dredge in front of the new dock facility. It also includes model studies to determine future shoaling patterns in the inlet that will help with projecting future maintenance dredging needs. The Corps has suggested certain structural design factors be considered and these are contained in the DA permit as conditions. The Corps will review MARAD's final design before its construction contractor begins installing the new dock. All concerns will have to be met before the Corps begins dredging in front of the new dock.

ABM: What has the Corps done to ensure there will be stable footing for the new dock?

Boardman: Expansion of the port is not a Corps project. Its design and construction is controlled by the port and its funding agencies. All investigation of subsurface conditions and engineering analysis of that data in the area of the port expansion has been performed by its designers. The Corps has performed an extensive subsurface exploration program' offshore from the proposed new dock facility to support the Corps' dredging contracts to keep the port operational during and after the expansion.

The Corps reviewed preliminary design documents for the expansion, to give the Corps confidence that the design would allow for dredging adjacent to the facility without causing a safety issue. That review produced several design issues that must be addressed. Conditions addressing the design concerns were added to the permit that the regulatory section issued. They must be satisfied prior to future in-water construction. The port is scheduled to submit complete 100 percent design documents for the entire project to the Corps in the near future for review and confirmation that the design issues have been addressed.

ABM: What has the Corps done to ensure developers of the port expansion install a dock facility that will stand up to stresses a 1964-caliber earthquake might inflict?

Boardman: The Corps did comment on seismic criteria used in the engineering analysis. These concerns were incorporated into conditions added to the permit issued by the Corps' regulatory division and must be addressed prior to future in-water construction.

ABM: What permits has the Corps issued relating to the port's expansion?

Boardman: Department of the Army permit POA-2003-502-2 authorized the discharge of fill material over 27 acres of waters of the U.S. associated with construction of the north backlands of the overall expansion project. DA permit POA2003-502-N authorized the remainder of the expansion.

The Corps reviewed environmental assessments prepared by MARAD and reports related to cultural-resource surveys and effects, fish and benthos sampling, geotechnical and seismic, chemical sampling and testing, hydrodynamics, Cook Inlet beluga whales and mitigation. The Corps also considered comments submitted by federal, state and local governments, tribal entities, nongovernmental organizations and the public.

ABM: How is the Corps handling concerns about the project's impact on whales and salmon?

Boardman: The Corps has carefully considered all submitted comments and concerns, evaluated anticipated environmental impacts (including impacts to beluga whales and salmon), and all practicable measures to minimize adverse impacts. The DA permit includes several special conditions to avoid, minimize and compensate for adverse impacts, including extensive beluga monitoring and shut-down procedures, prohibited construction periods, a fish study and the establishment of a mitigation fund for projects that benefit Knik Arm salmon populations.
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Comment:The corps of engineers/port of anchorage connection: q&a with Stephen Boardman.
Author:Kalytiak, Tracy
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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