N.C. Ports has received its permit for the $21 million turning basin expansion, allowing the capital improvement project to get underway at the Port of Wilmington.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Coastal Management have officially issued the permit for N.C. Ports to expand the Wilmington port's turning basin, officials with the Army Corps confirmed Friday.
This was the final piece needed for the Port of Wilmington to move forward with the estimated $21 million project, which is part of N.C. Ports’ more than $221 million capital improvement plan
No additional approvals are required for the project, Bethany Welch, spokeswoman for N.C. Ports, said in an email Friday.
The project will involve widening the turning basin from 1,400 feet to more than 1,500 feet, port officials have previously said.
“We have contractors on-site, ready to get to work,” Welch said.
This is N.C. Ports' second phase of the turning basin expansion project at the Port of Wilmington.
N.C. Ports spent more than $28 million for the first phase of the expansion, which was completed in 2016. That portion included the removal of a bulk pier and dredging to expand the turning basin from 1,200 feet to 1,400 feet.
The permit comes after a monthslong process to gain the necessary approvals to perform the work. A permit for the project was initially denied by the state due to some environmental concerns. The ports appealed that decision earlier this year.
The turning basin expansion project "will allow 14,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) ships and larger, to safely and efficiently turnaround in the Wilmington Navigational Harbor,” Welch said.
The project is the last step in the port's process to enable the Port of Wilmington to handle those larger ships. Over the course of its capital improvement plan, N.C. Ports has purchased and installed three new neo-Panamax cranes and is expected to wrap berth improvements by the end of the year.
The turning basin expansion project, is "a major component of our capital improvements plan designed to modernize the Port of Wilmington and will allow us to better support our growing customer base and meet customer demand," Welch said.
The expansion is slated to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.