New Jersey's U.S. senators say funding to complete the deepening of waterways shared by New York and New Jersey ports is a step closer to reality.

Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez announced Tuesday that $68 million has been approved for the project by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. Lautenberg is a member of the subcommittee.

The bill is expected to be approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Lautenberg says it will be enough to complete the massive project to deepen New York Harbor to 50 feet.

Along with a proposed $1 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge, the work is seen as crucial to the ports' ability to accommodate larger ships once the widening of the Panama Canal is finished in 2014.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)