Posted on April 6, 2022
STEVENSVILLE, Md. — More than $84 million in federal funding will help restore islands in the Chesapeake Bay while helping the Port of Baltimore maintain competitiveness.
As growth continues at the port, Maryland has taken major measures to ensure more, larger shipping traffic can get to it, which means a significant amount of dredging.
Now, thanks to a bipartisan effort in Washington, the dredging material will help rebuild parts of the Chesapeake Bay that need it most. This comes on the success of Poplar Island, which is nearly fully restored by dredging material.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin called the financing a big deal to not only ensure Baltimore’s port stays competitive, but also to rebuild parts of the bay.
“It means that when we negotiate with the carriers to come into the Port of Baltimore, they know for the next several decades, we can handle the dredging and the dredge material in regards to ports activities,” Cardin said.
Lawmakers in Washington had already secured $37.5 million for the Mid-Bay Project. They announced on Monday an additional $46.5 million.
Port officials said it comes at a time when they are planning to add more capacity for much larger ships.
“Dredging is the lifeline of the Port of Baltimore. Simply put, without it, we would not be able to handle most of the ships that come into the Port of Baltimore,” said Bill Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration.
The project focuses on Dorchester County’s James and Barren islands. The goal is to restore and expand island ecosystems, ultimately providing hundreds of acres of wetland and terrestrial habitat while improving shipping access to the Port of Baltimore.
“We look forward to Mid-Bay. We’ll restore 2,144 acres, that’s about 908 football fields of habitat, and 1,200 of those acres will be wetlands,” said Col. Estee Pinchasin, district commander for the Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The project will also have a major impact on social and environmental issues.
“We’ve had large amounts of property loss. We’ve had historic grade markers that are falling into the water because of erosion. We lost important habitat at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said.
If all goes as planned, this project is expected to begin sometime next spring.