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Obama approves funding for Boston Harbor dredging

A $310 million project to dredge Boston Harbor received federal funding Tuesday when President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, legislation that authorizes $12.3 billion for water projects throughout the country.

“This bill gives a green light to 34 water infrastructure projects across the country, including projects to deepen Boston Harbor and the Port of Savannah and to restore the Everglades,” Obama said before signing the act into law. “And with Congress’s authorization, these projects can now move forward.”

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The Boston project will deepen the navigation channels in the harbor, increasing the size and number of ships that can be handled by the Port of Boston. Dredging is expected to allow Boston to capture some of the New England-bound cargo that now docks in New York.

The project will also deepen Chelsea Creek, a common path for the region’s petroleum shipments.

Many ports on the East Coast are dredging their navigation channels to prepare for larger container ships that will be coming through the expanded Panama Canal.

Under the legislation, the federal government will fund $216 million, or about two-thirds, of the Boston project. The state and the Massachusetts Port Authority will split the additional costs.

The project is expected to take about five years, according to Massport.

“By making the necessary investments in our nation’s ports and water infrastructure, this legislation creates new economic development opportunities in Massachusetts,” said Governor Deval Patrick in a statement. He added that the project will create jobs, increase trade opportunities, and ensure the competitiveness of the port.

Taryn Luna can be reached at taryn.luna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TarynLuna.
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