Existing Clearance Gauge (Tacony-Palmyra Bridge Pier)
- The Delaware River and Bay are used by a variety of maritime sectors.
- It is the largest East Coast port in terms of handling petroleum products.
- When the major ports within the River and Bay are combined, the total port system ranked 7th in 1996, among US ports, in total tonnage handled.
- Annually, more than 2,500 merchant vessels call on ports in the River and Bay.
- The natural depth of the approach allows vessels with fifty-foot draft to enter the Bay. The navigation channel from the mouth to Camden is maintained to 45 feet. The remaining portion of the nearly 120 miles of navigable waterway to Newbold is maintenance dredged to 40 feet.
- Environmental conditions, which impede safe navigation of the River and Bay, include swift currents, severe weather, the presence of ice in the winter, and periods of low visibility.
- Further complicating navigation of the system are the high volume of traffic (particularly petrochemicals requiring HAZMAT precautions), draft limitations, recreational and ferry traffic which crosses the navigation channel, clearance under several bridges which cross the waterway, and traffic from the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (C&D).
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