BAYONNE - After 20 years, the dredging project to deepen the Port of New York and New Jersey has been completed.

The $2.1 billion project deepened the port’s shipping channel in Bayonne by 50 feet. Officials say this will allow access for larger ships, which is important to keeping the region competitive in the global marketplace.

The dredging project, along with the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, will allow the large Neo-Panamax cargo ships to enter New Jersey’s ports. The Neo-Panamax ships can carry 14,000 shipping containers.

The ships that currently fit into port can only carry about 8,000.

Sen. Robert Menendez says the project will add to New Jersey’s economy.

"The economic value…is worth $2.1 billion in personal income,” he says.

Officials also say there are 330,000 jobs connected to port operations.

Jake Broder-Fingert with the National Economic Council says that over the last six years there has been a 47 percent increase in exports out of the United States.

“Roughly 12 million jobs are supported by exports,” he says.

The state Department of Environmental Protection Army Corps says all of that dredge material was recycled. Some was used to fill in brownfields, or landfills, while some was used at new development or even wildlife estuaries in need of rehabilitation.

The larger ships are expected to sail into the port by 2017.