The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) officially commenced the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) to 50 feet on the evening of September 11, 2020. Weeks Marine started work under the first dredging contract for the deepening project with their cutterhead dredge CAPTAIN FRANK at Mile 5.0 Above Head of Passes (AHP). The USACE continues working to restore or maintain at least the central 250 feet of the Ship Channel on the Crossings Above New Orleans with the dustpan dredges JADWIN and WALLACE McGEORGE. The MRSC is federally authorized to a width of 500 feet Above New Orleans.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) WORKING MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHIP CHANNEL DEEPENING:
The USACE intends to deepen the Ship Channel with a total of three dredges, specifically the two cutterhead dredges listed below and a hopper dredge to be named at a later date. The hopper dredge contract process is ongoing with Manson Construction as the apparent low bidder.
CAPTAIN FRANK: The industry cutterhead dredge CAPTAIN FRANK officially commenced the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50 feet. The CAPTAIN FRANK is presently dredging at Mile 4.10 AHP and continues dredging on assignment from Mile 5 AHP to Mile 1 Below Head of Passes on the western side of the channel. The USACE awarded Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #1-2020 to Weeks Marine on Thursday, September 3, 2020.
ROBERT M. WHITE: The bid opening for Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020 was held on August 27, 2020 and the contract was awarded to Manson Construction on September 8, 2020. Manson is expected to start work under this deepening contract with their cutterhead dredge ROBERT M. WHITE by early October (2020).
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) IN THE HOPPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA (HDDA):
R.S. WEEKS: The cutterhead dredge R.S. WEEKS continues dredging in the HDDA. Weeks Marine has utilized multiple cutterhead dredges on this project and all material removed from the HDDA has been beneficially placed in the Pass A’Loutre Wildlife Management Area (PALWMA). The cutterhead dredges have beneficially utilized approximately 13.1 million cubic yards (mcy) of material removed from the HDDA to restore an estimated 1,040 acres. When this project is completed a total of 15 mcy will have been removed from the HDDA and utilized to restore a total of approximately 1,200 acres in the PALWMA. There are approximately 1.9 mcy of material left to be removed under this contract with completion expected in November (2020). The R.S. WEEKS resumed dredging in the HDDA on September 23, 2020.
DUSTPAN DREDGE(S) ON THE CROSSINGS ABOVE NEW ORLEANS:
WALLACE McGEORGE: The industry dustpan dredge commenced dredging operations on full channel dimensions at Alhambra Crossing (Mile 190.5 AHP) today at 1645 hours While the dredge is working at Alhambra Crossing the White Castle Anchorage (Mile 191.1 AHP to Mile 190.4 AHP) will be off limits for vessel usage. The WALLACE McGEORGE commenced dredging on the Crossings on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
The NOBRA and Federal Pilots have cleared the White Castle Anchorage of vessels by 0700 hours this morning (Friday, September 25, 2020) and will keep the anchorage clear until dredging operations are completed. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Information Bulletin as issued on September 22 (2020) detailing the closure of the White Castle anchorage is attached.
JADWIN: The government dustpan dredge continues dredging full channel dimensions at Philadelphia Crossing (Mile 183 AHP). The JADWIN began dredging on the Crossings on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
HURLEY: The government dustpan dredge HURLEY is expected to complete dredging on the shallow-draft channel at Tunica Bluff (Mile 294 AHP) over the next few days. Traffic is moving through the area in both directions with coordination of the U.S. Coast Guard and navigation industry. The HURLEY’s next assignment is also in the shallow-draft area at Wilkerson Point Mile 235 AHP. The HURLEY is expected to resume dredging on the Crossings by early October. The HURLEY commenced dredging on the Crossings on June 29, 2020 departed for Victoria Bend on July 18, 2020 and resumed dredging on the Crossings on August 3, 2020. The dustpan dredge then departed for Winchester on August 23, 2020.
The Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) reading at 1700 hours today was 5.19 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.75 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gauge issued todayforecasts the stage level to increase a few inches over the next few days before beginning a slow fall to 5.1 feet on October 23, 2020.
The Baton Rouge Gauge reading at 1700 hours today was 15.54 feet with a 24-hour change of + 1.74 feet. NOAA’s National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Baton Rouge Gauge issued today predicts a slight rise of about 6 inches over the next couple of days before beginning a slow fall to 14.3 feet on October 23, 2020.