Just days after a federal judge gave the green light to the 103-mile deepening of the Delaware River channel, members of Philadelphia's congressional delegation have urged the White House to include the $277 million project in President Obama's 2012 fiscal budget.
Although a court injunction was lifted last month that could have held up the deepening from 40 to 45 feet to accommodate larger ships and commerce, the real fight will be over how to pay for it.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and federal government are supposed to pay two-thirds of the tab, and the local sponsors, Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, about one-third.
For the first 13 miles of deepening work that was completed in September, Pennsylvania spent $26.7 million, and the federal government $3 million.
Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2011 includes no money for the U.S. Army Corps to dredge the Delaware River an additional five feet. U.S. Sens. Robert Casey and Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) hope that $7 million in an Senate energy and water bill can be used for the project.
At a briefing today with Philadelphia port officials, Casey and other members of Philadelphia's congressional delegation were told that, in order for the channel deepening to continue next August, $7 million in federal funds will be required.
And, next December, $30 million will be needed from the federal government to complete a 14-mile area, known as "Reach B," in Wilmington and in Delaware County, near Marcus Hook.
A Casey spokeswoman said the senator plans to meet with high-ranking officials at the Army Corps and the Office of Management and Budget with the goal of pushing the administration to fund the project.
"It's not clear whether the fiscal 2011 budget will include the $7 million that Senators Casey and Specter secured in the Senate energy and water bill," spokeswoman Stephanie Zarecky said in an e-mail. "If this item gets stripped out, Sen. Casey is going to press the administration to provide at least this amount through any discretionary process it puts in place in the absence of earmarks."