This Feasibility Report was prepared as a final response to the study authorization contained in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Resolution adopted on June 5, 1997. The report presents the results of studies investigating the need to deepen and widen the Sabine-Neches Waterway (SNWW) along the border of Texas and Louisiana. In response to the study authority, the reconnaissance phase of the study was initiated in September 1998. The reconnaissance investigations resulted in a finding that there was an interest in continuing the study into the feasibility phase. The Jefferson County Navigation District, as the non-Federal sponsor (Sponsor), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) initiated the feasibility phase of the study on March 6, 2000. The feasibility phase study cost was shared equally between the USACE and the Sponsor. In 2002, the Jefferson County Navigation District was renamed the Jefferson County Waterway and Navigation District (JCWND), and in 2007 the JCWND was renamed the Sabine Neches Navigation District (SNND); the latter designation is used throughout the remainder of this document.
This syllabus is intended to inform the reader of the major factors that were considered in the investigation and influenced the decisions documented in the Final Feasibility Report (FFR) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
MAJOR CONCLUSIONS AND FINDINGS
The water resources problems to be solved with this study are the navigational and safety issues that have developed on the SNWW because of the growth in the area. The investigation of the problems and opportunities in the study area led to the establishment of the following planning objectives:
• Improve the navigational efficiency along the SNWW waterway; and
• Maintain the ecological value of coastal and estuarine resources within the project area.
Over 120 alternatives at nine different depths (43, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 53, and 55 feet) in combination with several different width scenarios were evaluated in order to address the planning objectives and the problems and opportunities identified by the Sponsor and the public.
Identification of the National Economic Development Plan
The Federal objective in water resources planning is to contribute to the National Economic Development (NED) consistent with protecting the nation’s environment, pursuant to national environmental statutes, applicable executive orders, and other planning requirements. Through thorough investigation and analysis, deepening the SNWW to 49 feet (with selective widening) is the best plan to meet the NED objective. However, the Sponsor has indicated that the 48-foot plan is preferred because the cost of the NED and deeper plans would make the project unaffordable. The 48-foot plan is the Locally Preferred Plan (LPP) and is the Recommended Plan.
Recommended Plan and Locally Preferred Plan
The alternative plan selected for recommendation is the 48-foot plan that is also the LPP. The Recommended Plan calls for the following modifications to the existing SNWW:
• Deepening the SNWW from 40 to 48 feet and offshore channel from 42 to 50 feet in depth from offshore to the Port of Beaumont Turning Basin;
• Extending the 50-foot-deep offshore channel by 13.2 miles, increasing the total length of the channel from 64 to 77 miles;
• Decreasing the width of the Sabine Bank Channel from 800 to 700 feet;
• Tapering and marking the Sabine Bank Channel from 800 feet wide (Station 23+300) to 700 feet
wide (Station 25+800 through the end of the channel);
• Deepening and widening of Taylor Bayou channels and turning basins;
• Easing selected bends on the Sabine-Neches Canal and Neches River Channel; and
• Constructing new and enlarging/deepening existing turning and anchorage basins on the Neches River Channel.
Features of the Recommended Plan
The Recommended Plan consists of navigation channel improvements (see following table), marsh mitigation, and a 50-year Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) with beneficial use (BU) areas, upland placement areas (PAs), and Ocean
Dredged Material Disposal Sites (ODMDS).
Sixteen existing and two expanded upland PAs are proposed for use with the Recommended Plan. Offshore placement consists of four existing and four new ODMDSs. As part of the DMMP, dredged material would be used beneficially to restore degraded marsh areas on the Neches River and nourish the Gulf shoreline along the Texas and Louisiana coasts.