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Elizabeth River Southern Branch Navigation Improvements Project Study

Project Scope:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Port Authority are preparing an integrated General Reevaluation Report (GRR) and Environmental Assessment (EA) to examine whether navigation improvements to the Elizabeth River and Southern Branch are in the Federal interest.  The project consists of the evaluation of deepening and widening portions of three segments of the Elizabeth River and its Southern Branch.

The GRR allows for reformulation of the originally authorized plan, as appropriate, to develop a new alternative for implementation.  This includes a determination of whether the project is still economically justified, environmentally acceptable, technically appropriate, and adequately supported by non-Federal interests.

The potential project alternatives are to deepen and potentially widen portions of the channels in the project area (the Elizabeth River Channel, the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River Channel, and associated turning basins).  The channels would potentially be deepened from their existing 40 foot/35 foot depth up to, or in excess of, the authorized project depths of 45 and 40 feet, respectively. 

The potential project alternatives would also include an evaluation of alternatives for dredged material disposal. The current stage of the study process is the development of alternative project plans.  The report is anticipated to include an Environmental Assessment that will describe environmental impacts of the project alternatives and will determine the potential for significant impacts. 


This GRR study is authorized by Section 201 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986 (Public Law 99-662).

Project News:

The USACE and the Virginia Port Authority held a public scoping meeting on September 24, 2015 at Nauticus.  The purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the study and to solicit help in identifying issues, alternatives, and potentially significant impacts to be considered in the analysis. 

Posters that described the need for the study and how the public can participate and comment on the study were displayed at the meeting.  Participants from public as well as state, federal, and local agencies and local environmental groups attended the meeting and were invited to provide comments.

Project Sponsor:

USACE is the lead federal agency for this study and the Commonwealth of Virginia acting through its Agent, the Virginia Port Authority, is the non-federal sponsor for the study. 

Project Study Area:

The Elizabeth River main stem and its Southern Branch is located in the southeastern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia at the southern end of Chesapeake Bay, midway on the Atlantic Seaboard (approximately 170 miles south of Baltimore, Maryland, and 220 miles north of Wilmington, North Carolina). 

The Southern Branch of Elizabeth River is a 14.5 mile river in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It flows from south to north through the city of Chesapeake and forms the boundary between the cities of Portsmouth and Chesapeake for its northernmost 3 miles. It connects with the Elizabeth River main stem and continues into the harbor of Hampton Roads. The project area is also part of the Intracoastal Waterway of the Atlantic coast of the United States, connecting to the North Landing River, which flows into North Carolina.

Below is a link to the Elizabeth River and Southern Branch Draft General Re-evaluation Report and Environmental Assessment, which includes its adjoining appendices:

Elizabeth River and Southern Branch Draft General Reevaluation Report/Environmental Assessment

Appendix A Engineering
Appendix B Econ
Appendix C Real Estate
Appendix D Cost
Appendix E BA
Appendix F Clean Water Act Section 404
Appendix G CZMA
Appendix H EFH
Appendix I Coordination
Appendix J Hydro and Water Modeling

Schedule: TBD

Project Point of Contact Information:

For more information on the study, please contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia, 23510-1096. (757) 201-7606


Project Contact

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
Norfolk District,
803 Front Street,
Norfolk, Virginia, 23510-1096
Phone: (757) 201-7606



Project Partners

Port of Virginia
101 W. Main Street, Norfolk, Virginia
Jay Stecher