Project Background

The site of the proposed Port of Gulfport Expansion Project is in the City of Gulfport, Harrison County, Mississippi, approximately 7 miles south of Interstate (I)-10. The proposed Project is approximately 80 miles west of Mobile, Alabama, and 80 miles east of New Orleans, Louisiana. The Port encompasses approximately 369 acres and is located on the north shore of the Mississippi Sound within 5 miles of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and 10 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Island National Seashore.

The Federal Gulfport Harbor Navigation Project was adopted by the Rivers and Harbors Act on July 3, 1930 and amended on June 30, 1948. Construction of the existing Gulfport Harbor commenced in 1932 and was completed in 1950. Authorization to conduct improvements to the existing harbor was issued in the Fiscal Year 1985 Supplemental Appropriations Act (Public Law 99-88). The Water Resources Development Acts of 1986 and 1988 further modified the previous authorization to cover widening and deepening and thin-layer disposal, respectively. The authorized deepening was completed in 1993 and the widening was completed in 2011.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, resulting in one of the most significant natural disasters in United States history. The Port of Gulfport was severely impacted by the storm. The Port’s docks, terminals, electrical power supply, roads, water, sewer, rail, small craft harbor fendering systems, navigational aids, and lighting and security systems were all destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

A Department of the Army Permit issued in 1998 allowed the Port to fill the West Pier (referred to as the 84-acre Project) to construct new tenant terminals and infrastructure. Construction of the 84-acre Restoration Project was underway when Hurricane Katrina impacted the area, causing significant damage. In 2009, the Restoration Project was implemented to restore the 60 acres destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and fill the remaining 24 acres, thereby completing the 84-acre Restoration Project, as originally permitted in 1998. The Restoration Project is currently under construction and will be completed in 2017. The restored Port facility will be able to accommodate between 250,000 and 1.0 million TEUs annually by 2060, depending on configuration of tenants, the amount of automation, and the condition of the land-based rail and roadway infrastructure.

The proposed action evaluated for a Department of Army Permit is expansion of the Port via modifications to the West Pier, East Pier, North Harbor, and Turning Basin, and includes construction of a breakwater on the eastern side of the Gulfport Harbor Federal Navigation Channel. USACE determined that the proposed PGEP constitutes a major Federal action with potentially significant effects and/or substantial public interest and thus required the preparation of an EIS pursuant to NEPA. USACE has prepared an EIS to analyze and disclose the potential impacts of the PGEP and reasonable alternatives on the natural and human environment. It is intended to be sufficient in scope to address Federal, State, and local requirements with respect to the proposed activities and permit approvals.