In the coming year, the Delaware River will be deepened from 40 to 45 feet, thanks to a combination of state and federal dollars, allowing larger ships to pull into the Port of Philadelphia, bringing in bigger cargo and more jobs, officials announced.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Mayor Jim Kenney, State Rep. Bill Keller, Brandywine Realty Trust CEO and Philadelphia Regional Port Authority Chairman Jerry Sweeney and several others having a hand in the Delaware Deepening project gathered Friday at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in South Philly to make the announcement.

“You’ll have three times the jobs that are created with one container than there are with any other cargo they have,” Keller said under the shadow of the Walt Whitman Bridge.

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“Our focus is hopefully going to be on containers. Right now, we have 500,000 containers. We have 10,000 jobs associated with that. If we get the dredging done, and we can build a modern terminal, we can do 2½ to 3 million containers, so that’s how you multiply the jobs that will be created.”

By comparison, said Keller, New York City's port, operates with 5 million containers. The city recently issued a report that linked 316,000 jobs with 5 million containers.

“That’s the job growth we’re looking for,” he said.

Sweeney said the total cost of the project would be about $400 million, the lion’s share to be paid for with federal funds; Pennsylvania will cover 35 percent of the cost..

“It’s imperative we get this deepening project done so we can handle bigger ships,” he said.

“These jobs are all family-sustaining, well-paid, lifelong careers for people, so it really would boost the economy overall.”

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Casey and Kenney were given a tour of the port, and Casey said the project would add an estimated 2½ million more tons of cargo over time.

“It will make this region more competitive,” he said.

“The new jobs numbers will be in the thousands. It’s about as big a job creator over time as anything we could do in this region, so this is big.”

The project is slated for completion in 2017.