The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed the Phase 1 dredging for the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) to 50 feet on May 7, 2021. The Phase 1 section of the Ship Channel extends from Venice at Mile 13 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 22 Below Head of Passes (BHP). The USACE uncovered some depth anomalies over four utility pipelines and one utility cable that cross under the Ship Channel in this Venice Corridor between Mile 12.0 AHP to Mile 11.0 AHP. The USACE has reached out to the owners of the identified obstructions and is attempting to gain integrity on the depth of these obstructions. The USACE is working to maintain or restore at least half of the authorized channel width or the central 250 feet of the channel on the Crossings. The dustpan dredges are currently working to maintain federally authorized channel dimensions on the Crossings, which remain 45 feet deep by 500 feet wide, for now. The USACE expects to commence Phase 2 of the MRSC deepening to 50 feet at Fairview Crossing (Mile 115 AHP) in September.
DUSTPAN DREDGES WORKING ON THE CROSSINGS ABOVE NEW ORLEANS:
WALLACE McGEORGE: The industry dustpan dredge WALLACE McGEORGE continues dredging the central 250 feet of channel at Red Eye Crossing (Mile 224 AHP). The dustpan began dredging on the Crossings on May 20, 2021 and worked privately from August 16 to August 18 for the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and then resumed dredging on the Crossings on August 19 (2021).
JADWIN: The government dustpan dredge JADWIN continues dredging full channel dimensions (500 feet) at Belmont Crossing (Mile 154 AHP). The JADWIN dredged on the Crossings from June 24 to July 17 (2021) before being released to complete repairs and resumed dredging on the Crossings on August 1, 2021.
The dustpan dredges are expected to seek safe harbor tomorrow morning to prepare for the weather conditions associated with Hurricane Ida.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) IN THE HOPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA (HDDA):
ILLINOIS: The cutterhead dredge ILLINOIS (Great Lakes Dredge and Dock) has removed and beneficially utilized approximately 11.0 million cubic yards (mcy) of material from the HDDA under Hopper Dredge Disposal Area Cutterhead Rental Contract #1-2019. The cutterhead dredge and equipment moved to safe harbor overnight this will delay the scheduled channel closures for next week.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) IN THE HOPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA (HDDA):
The submerged dredge pipeline removal will require two 12-hours full channel closures from
Mile 2 Above Head of Passes to Mile 0 (Head of Passes). These complete channel closures have been be delayed in response to Tropical Storm Ida (Hurricane Ida) the channel closure tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 31 has been cancelled. The most likely implementation schedule is for the first closure to be 0600 hours to 1800 hours on Thursday, September 2 with the second closure on Saturday, September 4 as previously advertised. The impact of Hurricane Ida on the area and the impact to navigation conditions will be considered before these closures are officially rescheduled.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s previously issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) on the pipeline removal operations is attached and notes the possible rescheduling.
The HDDA contract detailed the removal of 10 mcy in the base and the USACE recently awarded an option to add an additional 2 mcy to this assignment. The material is beneficially being used in the West Bay Receiving Area through the submerged dredge pipeline that will be removed upon completion of the project as detailed above.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) reading at 1000 hours today was 4.68 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.81 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gauge issued today forecasts stages will spike with storm surge and precipitation attributed to Tropical Storm or Hurricane Ida at 8.6 feet expected on Sunday, August 29 and will then begin a fall once the system clears the area and begin a slow fall to 4.7 Feet on September 24 (2021).
The highest crest recorded on the Carrollton Gauge in 2021 to date is 15.44 feet at 1700 hours on April 16, 2021.
The Baton Rouge Gauge reading at 1000 hours today was 12.68 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.47 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Baton Rouge Gauge issued today forecasts stages will spike with storm surge and precipitation attributed to Tropical Storm or Hurricane Ida at 16.7 feet expected on Monday, August 30 and will then begin a fall once the system clears the area and begin a slow fall to 10.6 feet on September 24 (2021).
HURRICANE IDA IMPACTS:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service has issued an update on the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service gauge titled Mississippi River at New Orleans now forecast a spike at the Carrolton Gauge with a stage of 11.0 feet at 1300 hours on Sunday, August 29, 2021 (8.6 feet at 0700 hours and 6.3 feet at 0100 hours – all on August 29). For a quick rise of more than 6.0 feet and then falling back to approximately 6.6 feet on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 and continuing a slow fall.
The Bar Pilots expect to cease vessel movements at 1200 hours tomorrow (Saturday August 27, 2021) specifically with the last outbound vessel to arrive Pilottown by 1200 hours (tomorrow) and no inbounds scheduled to arrive after 1200 hours tomorrow.
The Crescent River Port Pilots expect to cease vessel movements at 1200 hours tomorrow, Saturday August 27, 2021 specifically with the last outbound vessel to arrive Pilottown by 1200 hours (tomorrow) and no inbounds after that time either (Matching Bar Pilots schedule for coordination).
The Federal Pilots expect to cease vessel movements at 1200 hours tomorrow, Saturday August 27, 2021 specifically with the last inbound now reported for 1700 tonight and shutting down Southwest Pass traffic by tomorrow afternoon.
The NOBRA Pilots will continue moving and repositioning vessels in accordance with the Bar and Crescent Pilots scheduled shut downs and continue to assist vessels shifting in their area of responsibility (New Orleans to Baton Rouge).