The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed channel maintenance dredging efforts on the Crossings Above New Orleans for Fiscal Year 2022 on November 21, 2022. The Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA) project to remove 4 million cubic yards (mcy) of material from the HDDA will be completed by the end of the month. The contractor Weeks Marine expects to remove the submerged dredge pipeline that was installed across the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) in a full channel closure tentatively scheduled for January 10, 2023.
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 Above Head of Passes (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 maximum draft north of the Huey P. Long remains 49 feet to Mile 175 AHP, the channel above Mile 175 AHP is expected to be mechanically deepened in Phases 3-5 (estimated) by 2025.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE WORKING IN THE HOPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA:
CAPTAIN FRANK: The industry cutterhead dredge CAPTAIN FRANK (Weeks Marine) continues working on assignment in the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA). Weeks indicates there are 450,000 cubic yards of material remaining to be removed and expects dredging to be completed by the end of the month (December 28, 2022). Weeks is tentatively planning to remove the submerged dredge pipeline in a complete channel closure on January 10, 2023, from 0600 hours to 1800 hours with a scheduled backup closure date of January 12, 2023. The installation of the submerged dredge pipeline was completed during scheduled channel closures and successfully installed on October 6, 2022. The cutterhead began dredging operations in the HDDA the next day (October 7, 2022). The beneficial use 4 mcy of dredged material should restore approximately 360 acres of wetlands in the environmentally sensitive birds’-foot delta.
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
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 (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft to 49 feet (freshwater) from Mile 88 AHP to Mile 175 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 106 AHP
(Huey P. Long) to the Southwest Pass Sea Buoy is now set at 50 feet (freshwater). The maximum draft decreases to 49 feet from the Port of New Orleans to Mile 175 AHP
(Smoke Bend) until additional adjustments are made.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) reading at 1100 hours today was 5.02 feet with a 24-hour change of – 0.22 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 continue a slow rise to 6.2 feet on December 28, 2022 and remain steady for five days before beginning a slow fall to 5.2 feet on January 19 (2023).
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 1100 hours was 17.60 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.12 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 continue a steady rise to 18.7 feet on December 27, 2022 and remain steady for a few days and then begin a slow fall to 14.4 feet on January 19 (2023).