By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal appeals court ruling helped keep the Army Corps of Engineers on schedule for the next phase of dredging of the Delaware River to deepen the channel so larger ships can navigate it to Camden and Philadelphia ports.

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The ruling — handed down on Tuesday from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia — essentially upholds the decisions of federal judges in Trenton and Wilmington that deepening the river navigation channel by five feet is legal.

“The lower court rulings have allowed us to move forward with the project,” says Ed Voigt, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in Philadelphia. “And so with the appeals court’s decision we continue to move forward with the project.”

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Voigt says, so far, an 11-mile stretch of the river south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge to an area just off the coast of northern Delaware has been done. He says the next phase is set to begin by September.

“Approximately 11 miles, the northern end of it being just below the Walt Whitman Bridge and then going down to roughly Tinicum Marsh.”

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Voigt says federal funding is being put into place to continue the project to completion.