USACE, City of Nome Sign Partnership Agreement for Port Modification Project

Representatives with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska District and City of Nome conducted a signing ceremony in Nome for an agreement between the two stakeholders that advances the construction of the Port of Nome Modification Project.

Officially known as a “project partnership agreement,” the document was originally signed by Col. Jeffrey Palazzini, district commander, and John Handeland, mayor of Nome, on Jan. 11 to expand the existing port facilities in Nome. The agreement describes the project and responsibilities of the federal government and the non-federal sponsor, which is the City of Nome, in the cost sharing and execution of work. When this milestone is achieved in the federal process, both entities can work together to implement the project.

“Together, we continue to build upon the legacy of the Port of Nome and the broader community,” Palazzini said during the event. “As sea ice recedes and shipping traffic increases in the Arctic, Nome finds itself at the center of an evolving world. A more efficient transportation hub in the form of this port expansion will create opportunities to improve housing, food security and infrastructure by reinforcing the region’s supply chain, which will then enable an influx of important goods and lower prices for consumers across western Alaska’s communities.”

In partnership with the City of Nome, USACE designed modifications to the port, also known as Nome Harbor, to alleviate existing vessel restrictions that are imposed by insufficient channel depths and limited harbor space. The construction project aims to provide larger vessels with improved access to the existing harbor by enlarging the outer basin and creating a new deep-water basin at a depth of minus 40 feet. Dredging is required to deepen and maintain both basins and associated navigation channels. Currently, ship transportation is limited by existing depths in the outer basin of minus 22 feet. This depth is inadequate to safely accommodate vessels of drafts greater than about 18 feet.

Furthermore, the new construction will extend the west causeway by more than 3,400 feet and construct a new east causeway aligned with F Street. The project will create about 2,000 feet of useable dock moorage area as well as a series of 400-foot docks attached to the causeways.

A robust and efficient transportation hub at Nome is foundational to the long-term viability of surrounding communities in the region. The preconstruction, engineering and design phase as well as the first phase of construction is funded at $250 million. The total project cost is anticipated at $548 million. The federal government is paying for 90 percent of the project’s cost share with the non-federal sponsor responsible for the remaining 10 percent.

“I believe that today we are not only celebrating the start of a port modification, but also recognizing a regional and national milestone,” Palazzini said. “As the need for economic stability and national security in the Arctic grows ever more important, USACE stands with Alaskan communities and the broader American nation as we engineer solutions to our Nation’s toughest challenges in the far north.”

USACE anticipates awarding a construction contract in 2024.