As of late 1999 MARAD vessels CAPE LOBOS and CAPE LAMBERT had been removed from the MARAD contracted berth in Wilmington, and a proposal to substitute CAPE "J" vessels for departed Cape vessels was online and progressing.
The North Carolina State Ports Authority owns and operates deepwater facilities at Morehead City and Wilmington, and inland terminals in Charlotte and in the Piedmont Triad at Greensboro. Ships from around the world deliver and pick up goods at the two deepwater seaports which link the State's consumers, business and industry to the world marketplace. Activities at the State Ports generate over 80,000 jobs statewide and nearly $300 million in taxes.
Federal funding to continue the Wilmington Harbor Deepening Project in the federal Fiscal Year 2001 budget - $40.6 million - was approved by the Congress in 2000. The 2000 North Carolina General Assembly approved a measure appropriating $12.5 million to match the Federal share. This funding allowed the US Army Corps of Engineers to keep the project on schedule and bring the 42-foot channel to the Wilmington Port by 2003. The beginning stages of the deepening project focused on environmental mitigation programs, including the creation of a 32-acre primary nursery area for fish and other aquatic species on Island 13, a mid-river dredged material disposal site. Another key focus is renourishment of Brunswick and New Hanover County shorelines with beach quality sand taken from the river bottom. Plans call for some 6 million cubic yards of sand to be placed on area beaches in the construction phase of the deepening project with additional sand made available through the beach communities during the regular annual maintenance program for the foreseeable future.
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