Press Release

May 24, 2024
Cardin Lauds Maryland Projects in Bipartisan Water Resources Development Act
Unanimous Committee Approval Sends Authorization of Key Projects to the full Senate

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, praised bipartisan committee approval of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 2024). The package, which is the primary authorization for the Civil Works programs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), including flood control, navigation and ecosystem restoration projects, contains a number of important provisions for Maryland.

“After the deadly collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, all of Maryland and the nation have been able to witness the incredible expertise and skill of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in maintaining safe and navigable waterways. Their deep base of talent and dedicated personnel, who were hard at work in Maryland and the Port of Baltimore for years before the bridge tragedy, has a direct effect on our regional economy, jobs and the marine ecosystems across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. I am proud of this legislation, which supports USACE’s increasingly complex mandate and advances several projects that support a thriving, safe, and healthy Maryland.

“Overall, Maryland’s communities of all sizes won in WRDA 2024. The legislation includes provisions that both the Port of Baltimore and the many small harbors in that state that rely on navigable channels for tourism and recreation. Additionally, the bill advances my long-term effort to expand the beneficial use of dredge material to restore ecosystems and support oyster restoration programs.

Key Maryland Wins in WRDA 2024

Seagirt Loop Channel

WRDA 2024 authorizes $64 million towards deepening the federal channel at Seagirt Marine Terminal. Seagirt is the Port of Baltimore’s main container terminal, handling 97 percent of its container volume. This project proposes to further widen and deepen (to a 50-foot depth) a channel near terminal so that large container vessels can more efficiently enter and depart the terminal

Oyster Program Authorization Increase

WRDA 2024 increases the program authorization for oyster restoration to $120 million. The Army Corps’ program for oyster restoration (“704b”) has completed important work in Maryland tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay including in Harris Creek and the Tred Avon River.

Small Waterways and Community Harbors

WRDA 2024 builds off a provision Senator Cardin secured in WRDA 2022 to support small harbor dredging. These projects are critical for sustaining working waterfronts and tourism businesses, but historically don’t rise to the top of the Army Corp’s list of priority channels. Through WRDA 2024, I am continuing to push the Corps to capture the full range of benefits these harbors have in Chesapeake Bay communities, including how dredge material can be used for ecosystem restoration, in their project decisions.

In addition, the legislation includes a Sense of Congress that states shallow draft dredging in the Chesapeake Bay is critical for tourism, recreation, and the fishing industry and that additional dredging is needed. It encourages the Army Corps to use existing statutory authorities to address the dredging needs at small harbors and channels in the Chesapeake Bay.

Baltimore Coastal Storm Risk Management Projects

WRDA 2024 directs the USACE to complete expeditiously the Baltimore Coastal Storm Risk Management Study, which examines the coastal storm risk to Baltimore and its critical structural infrastructure. 

Feasibility Study for Coastal Highway (Route 528)

The bill authorizes a feasibility study for Route 528 near Ocean City, Maryland. The route follows the Atlantic Coast and is highly vulnerable to damage from erosion, flooding, and waves caused by coastal storms. The Army Corps-partnered study will help identify measures to help protect public infrastructure as well as lives and property and ensure access in times of emergency.

Feasibility Study for Route 50 in Prince George’s County

The bill authorizes a feasibility study for Route 50 is a key connector corridor between Washington and Baltimore, but it is prone to flooding during extreme storms. Specifically, flooding from Beaverdam Creek can affect both vehicular traffic and CSX and Amtrak rail traffic. The Army Corps feasibility study will help identify possible solutions for mitigating this flooding.