Army Corps releases $611M expansion plan for Port of Nome

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Army Corps of Engineers has announced a $611 million expansion plan for the Port of Nome that will allow visits from larger ships.

The plan will allow the port to accommodate larger tankers and cruise ships, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday.

The primary benefit to residents of Nome and outlying communities would be potentially lower-cost goods brought in by larger vessels, officials said.

The plan builds on a $210 million proposal from 2015 to expand the protected water area in front of Nome and dredge for larger ships.

Congress gave the Corps authority to expand its scope when evaluating plans to bolster marine infrastructure in Alaska.

The 2016 Water Resources Development Act included a provision allowing Corps officials to consider the “viability of regions” when evaluating port projects in Alaska, rather than just direct and immediate cost-benefit reviews.

“We could look at the entire region around Nome with all the remote villages and how their viability may be positively affected by a deep-draft port,” Alaska Chief of Civil Works Bruce Sexauer said.

He added: “It’s more of a regional assessment that Congress authorized us to utilize to justify the project.”

The plan recommended by the Corps calls for doubling the length of the port’s existing west causeway.

The causeway would reach about 2,100 feet (640 metres) farther into Norton Sound with a nearly 1,400-foot (427-meter) breakwater to protect the harbour entrance from incoming waves.

The existing east causeway-breakwater would be demolished and replaced with a larger, 3,900-foot (1,189-meter) causeway-breakwater that would expand the port’s outer basin.

The larger outer port basin would also be dredged to increase its depth from 22 to 28 feet (6.7 to 8.5 metres).

Three new docks would be placed near the end of the longer west causeway-breakwater in an area dredged to at least 40 feet (12 metres) deep.

The Associated Press