Work Begins on Dredging Project to Deepen Mississippi River Ship Channel

Capt Frank

NEW ORLEANS — On Sept. 11, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging the Mississippi River ship channel to 50 feet. 

The overall project will provide a “draft” of 50 feet from the Port of Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico – more than 256 miles of the Mississippi River. In addition, the material dredged from the first 30 miles of the project near the mouth of the Mississippi River will be used to restore an estimated 1,462 acres of critical marsh habitat. Phase 1 of the project will provide a 50-foot channel from the Gulf of Mexico through Southwest Pass to Belmont Crossing and open up approximately 175 miles of the ship channel to the deeper draft. Phase 1 encompasses the entire jurisdiction of the Port of New Orleans, St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District, the Plaquemines Port, Harbor and Terminal District and the majority of the Port of South Louisiana.

“This start of this deepening project is a landmark day for our national maritime industry, and stakeholders in Louisiana and along the Mississippi River who collaboratively advocated for this national priority. Our tireless advocacy and meaningful investment, along with Governor Edwards’ commitment to provide a significant financial match made this long sought-after project a reality,” said Louisiana DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn D. Wilson. “Our magnificent Mississippi River, the life blood of our state’s economy, will enable us to further expand global markets for farmers, manufacturers, and citizens that depend on imports and exports of goods for jobs and a quality of life.”

 The USACE awarded this first contract for the ship channel deepening to Weeks Marine on Sept. 3. The USACE awarded the second cutterhead dredge contract to Manson Construction on Sept. 8. Manson is expected to begin work in late September. Three dredges – two cutterheads and one hopper dredge – will be used to deepen the channel in the first phase of the project.

“This project represents an incredible partnership between the federal government, Congress, industry and the State of Louisiana,” said Colonel Stephen Murphy, Commander of the USACE New Orleans District. “By deepening the Mississippi River Ship Channel even by just five feet the National economy will see benefits to the tune of approximately $127 million annually. With a benefit-to-cost ratio of 7.2-to-1, the project will pay for itself in two years. This is a really great deal for Louisiana and America.”

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