The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded a cutterhead dredge rental contract to Weeks Marine to remove 4 million cubic yards (mcy) in the base of the contract with options to add up to another 4 mcy of dredged material to be removed from the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA). Weeks Marine will utilize the cutterhead dredge E.W. ELLEFSEN to begin work on this dredge contract with submerged dredge pipeline operations expected to begin the first week of October 2022.
Please review the attached diagram related to the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA) cutterhead dredge contract and the plan to install a submerged dredge pipeline from the HDDA (eastern side) to the West Bay Receiving Area (western side). There will soon be more information distributed but the BRC wanted to give members this notice two weeks prior to the first scheduled closure of the Mississippi River Ship Channel related to the HDDA dredging assignment.
There will be two days of one-way traffic utilized to dredge a trench for the submerged dredge pipeline on the western side of the Ship Channel (details attached) and two 12-hour complete channel closures required to dredge a trench on the eastern side of the Ship Channel and then to install the submerged dredge pipeline across the Ship Channel (east to west) to pump the removed dredge material from the HDDA into the West Bay Receiving Area.
All of the removed dredge sediment will be beneficially used in the West Bay Receiving area and is expected to create approximately 600 acres of new marsh in the West Bay Receiving Area.
The pipeline installation will require two 12-hour full channel closures for all vessel traffic intending to transit this reach of the Ship Channel on the dates listed below. The submerged dredge pipeline will be inserted across the Ship Channel between Mile 1.4 AHP and Mile 1.2 AHP.
TENTATIVELY SCHEDULED CHANNEL RESTRICTIONS AND CLOSURES:
- SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2 and MONDAY, OCTOBER 3: One-Way Traffic from Mile 2 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to Mile 0 (Head of Passes) for all vessels transiting this reach of the Mississippi River Ship Channel. This period will be utilized by Weeks Marine to have the cutterhead dredge dig a trench on the western side of the Ship Channel that the submerged dredge pipeline will eventually be inserted into.
- TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2022: Complete Channel Closure from 0600 hours to 1800 hours for all vessel traffic from Mile 2 AHP to Mile 0 (Head of Passes). This closure will be utilize by Weeks Marine to have the E.W. ELLEFSEN dredge on the eastern side of the Ship Channel that will be utilized to insert the dredge pipeline sufficiently deep enough to ensure the top of the pipeline is installed at 59.5 feet Mean Lower Low Water in the trench.
- WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2022: NO CHANNEL RESTRICTIONS expected.
- THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2022: Complete Channel Closure from 0600 hours to 1800 hours for all vessel traffic from Mile 2 AHP to Mile 0 (Head of Passes). This closure will be utilized to install the submerged dredge pipeline into the cross-channel trench.
To coordinate vessel traffic before the start of the channel closures the Crescent River Port Pilots will accept outbound traffic on the days of the closures if the vessels reach Pilottown by 0400 hours. The Bar Pilots will accept inbound vessels on the mornings of the closures, if the vessel can cross-in to Southwest Pass (SWP) (abeam of the SWP Lighthouse) no later than 0400 hours with the ability to clear Pilottown by 0600 hrs. The Federal Pilots will utilize the same closure time parameters as the Crescent and Bar Pilots, outbounds at Pilottown by 0400 hours and inbounds at the SWP Lighthouse by 0400 hours. (The pilots will also use discretion to move vessels in our out based on their ability to complete the transit – or not.)
The contractor Weeks Marine is expected to release a more detailed packet with closure and contact information and the U.S. Coast Guard will soon issue a Marine Safety Information Bulletin with complete details. Please accept this notice of the upcoming 12-hour complete Ship Channel closures from Mile 2 Above Head of Passes to Mile 0 (Head of Passes) on October 4th and October 6th. Weeks Marine will provide updates on days of closures to assist in resuming deep-draft traffic if the submerged dredge pipeline or dredging operations might be completed earlier than scheduled.