Port Channel Clearance Recent Port Developments Recent Intermodal Projects
Boston Plans to dredge the channel depth from 40 to 48 feet under study (no specific timeline).    
New York Harbor channels dredged to 50 feet (completed in 2016). Clearance improvement of the Bayonne Bridge (to be completed in 2018). Expansion of Global Terminal completed in 2014. Delivery of 5 super-post Panamax cranes in 2015. ExpressRail improvements (South Hudson Intermodal Facility). Crescent Corridor (CSX).
Philadelphia Plans to dredge the Delaware River channel from 40 to 45 feet (to be completed in 2017). Development of South Terminal, a new container terminal (no specific timeline)  
Baltimore No plans (currently at 50 feet). Plans to dredge several berths to 50 feet (no timeline specified). 4 super-post Panamax cranes installed in 2013 at Seagirt Marine Terminal. National Gateway Project (CSX).
Hampton Roads Discussions to dredge from the current draft of 50 feet to 55 feet (no specific timeline). Craney Island Eastward Expansion project (first phase to open by 2025). National Gateway Project (CSX). Heartland Corridor (NS).
Wilmington, NC Plans to dredge the port channel from 42 to 44 feet (to start in 2019).   National Gateway Project (CSX).
Charleston Plans to dredge the port channel from 45 to 52 feet (to be completed in 2020).   South Carolina Inland Port (NS) (opened in 2013).
Palmetto Railways Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF).
Savannah Dredging the port channel from 42 to 47 feet under way (to be completed in 2022). Construction of a new terminal gate (completed in 2016). 8 super-post Panamax cranes to be purchased.  
Jacksonville Plans to dredge from the current draft of 40 feet to 47 feet. (expected to start in 2016 subject to funding). New container facility at Dames Point opened in 2009. Dames Point Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (CSX) (completed in 2015).
Everglades Plans to dredge from the current draft of 42 feet to 48 feet. (expected to be completed in 2017). Plans to purchase 5 post Panamax cranes between 2019 and 2034. Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (CSX) (completed in 2014).
Miami Harbor channel dredged from 42 to 50 feet (completed in 2014). 7 super-post Panamax cranes installed in 2013. PortMiami tunnel (completed in 2014). PortMiami-Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway connection (completed in 2014).
Mobile Plans to dredge harbor channel from 45 to 50 feet (no timeline specified).   Intermodal rail terminal adjacent to port planned (no specific timeline).
New Orleans Plans to dredge Mississippi River Southwest Pass from 45 to 50 feet (no timeline specified). New Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal (no specific timeline). Crescent Corridor (CSX).
Houston Plans to dredge access channels to main container terminals from 40 to 45 feet (to be completed in 2016). Bayport and Barbour Cuts terminal improvements. Broadway Second Main Track project (to begin in 2016)
Source: Web Sites and press releases of port authorities. Infrastructure projects were retained on the ground of their potential relation with the Panama Canal expansion. Rodrigue, J-P and T. Notteboom (2015) "The Legacy and Future of the Panama Canal: From Point of Transit to Transshipment Hub", TR News 296.
Main East and Gulf Coasts Port Infrastructure Developments Associated with the Expansion of the Panama Canal
When the expansion of the Panama Canal was announced in 2007, decision makers at most of the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports started to consider their facilities’ readiness to accommodate the expected larger ships. Many concluded that their current infrastructure capacity and performance would place them at a competitive disadvantage. These assessments have spurred the design, planning, and implementation of a variety of projects to improve port infrastructure. The projects fall into three main categories; channel clearance, port infrastructure, and hinterland access.
  • Channel Clearance. Channel and harbor clearance mostly involve dredging projects to accommodate larger ships with wider and deeper channels. Wherever possible, the dredging aims to reach a reference depth of 50 feet, to match the draft of the expanded Panama Canal. Dredging is the infrastructure project most directly associated with the canal expansion, because most East and Gulf Coast ports are Panamax ports and accommodate drafts of approximately 42 feet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for dredging; as a result, ports have engaged in intense competition and lobbying to secure the funding for dredging projects. Several of the largest port authorities were able to secure sufficient funding, but many have had to raise additional sums. Nevertheless, many of the dredging projects have no specific timeline, reflecting the uncertainty of public funding. In other nations, the port authorities assume responsibility for the task and risks of dredging; having a federal agency in charge creates controversy.
  • Port Developments. The projects to upgrade port infrastructure include installation of super-post-Panamax cranes, improved piers, and yard equipment for larger containerships of 10,000 TEU. Ports with a 50-foot draft have invested in new cranes to service the post-Panamax ships. The expected growth in the cargo to be handled, as well as in container volumes per port call, has incited terminal improvement projects, including purchase of new yard equipment, expansion of storage space, investment in information technologies, and improvements in gate operations. Some piers were expanded and strengthened to accommodate the longer ships. Nevertheless, attributing port infrastructure projects to the Panama Canal expansion is not always straightforward; many of the projects may be standard improvements or planned maintenance that would have occurred without the expansion.
  • Intermodal Developments. Infrastructure improvements for hinterland access include better road and rail connections, as well as new or improved intermodal yards. The two Class 1 rail operators on the East Coast have launched the most salient rail corridor initiatives; the CSX National Gateway Project and Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor project are direct improvements to the hinterland access of the East and Gulf Coast ports, offering more efficient double-stacking services and intermodal yards. These projects, however, represent market-servicing strategies that may be justifiable without the Panama Canal expansion. Nevertheless, the expansion has provided a context for presenting and justifying many of these infrastructure projects.