The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) commenced channel maintenance dredging efforts in Southwest Pass for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 23) on January 29, 2023, with the hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction). The Mississippi River Ship Channel deepening project achieved another milestone when the New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association (NOBRA) increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet from Mile 175 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 88 AHP. The previous draft recommendation had been limited to 49 feet above Mile 106 AHP (Huey P. Long Bridge).
The USACE previously completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel Deepening (MRSC) to 50 Feet. The areas of the Ship Channel that required dredging to provide the deeper draft channel were mechanically deepened up to Smoke Bend at Mile 175 AHP. The maximum draft recommendation on the Ship Channel was increased to 50 feet (freshwater) from the Huey P. Long Bridge (Mile 106 AHP) to the jetty end of Southwest Pass (Mile 20 Below Head of Passes [BHP]) on July 20, 2022. The channel above Mile 175 AHP is expected to be mechanically deepened in Phases 3-5 (estimated) by 2027.
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING ON THE CROSSING ABOVE NEW ORLEANS:
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) moved upriver to begin work at restoring fully authorized channel dimensions (500 feet by 53.0 Low Water Reference Plane) at Fairview Crossing (Mile 116 AHP) on May 1, 2023. The large hopper dredge will start work on the Crossings with the dustpan dredges expected to arrive later this month. The GLENN EDWARDS is working under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #1-2022 a Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 23) early award hopper dredge rental contract, with contract completion expected in late July (2023).
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN THE AREA OF SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
DODGE ISLAND: The industry hopper dredge DODGE ISLAND (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock) is dredging at Cubits Gap (Mile 3.5 AHP to Mile 2.0 AHP). The hopper dredge began work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2022 on March 28 (2023). This is the second of the two early award hopper contracts for FY 23.
USACE HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS:
WHEELER: The USACE hopper dredge WHEELER continues working on assignment in SWP from Mile 9.4 BHP to Mile 12.4 BHP under Readiness Exercise #3-2023 that is scheduled to be completed on May 8. The WHEELER began dredging under Readiness Exercise #3-2023 on April 19 and previously completed Readiness Exercise #1-2023 (February 23 to March 11) and Readiness Exercise #2-2023 (March 21 to April 2).
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
(Last Adjusted on March 7, 2023)
The updated maximum draft recommendation for each Pilot Association as adjusted due to the Mississippi River Ship Channel Deepening are listed below:
Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots): The Bar Pilots increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on March 16, 2022.
Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CPPRA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on July 20, 2022.
New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft to 50 feet (freshwater) from Mile 175 AHP to Mile 88 AHP on March 7, 2023. NOBRA has previously limited the maximum draft recommendation to 49 feet from Mile 175 AHP to Mile 106 AHP on July 13, 2022. The maximum draft recommendation from Mile 175 to 180 remains 47 feet and from Mile 180 to Mile 233.8 it remains 45 feet.
Associated Federal Pilots and Docking Masters of Louisiana (Federal Pilots): The Federal Pilots increased their maximum draft recommendations to the following on July 21, 2022:
- 50 feet from Sea Buoy to Mile 104.7 AHP
- 49 feet from Mile 104.7 AHP to 175 AHP
- 45 feet Mile 175 AHP to 232.4 AHP
- 40 feet Mile 232.4 AHP to 233.8 AHP
The controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC from Mile 175 AHP (Smoke Bend) to the Southwest Pass Sea Buoy is now set at 50 feet (freshwater) as established on March 7, 2023.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) reading at 1000 hours today was 7.49 feet with a 24-hour change of – 0.32 feet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gage issued today forecasts stages will remain steady just over 7.0 feet with a crest of 8.0 feet projected on May 20 and will then resume a slow fall to 7.3 feet on May 30 (2023).
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 1000 hours was 23.50 feet with a 24-hour change of – 0.61 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 remain steady near 23.0 for a week or so and then begin a slow rise to 25.1 feet on May 17 before beginning a slow fall to 22.7 feet on May 30 (2023).