The deepening of the Mississippi River Ship Channel – Baton Rouge to the Gulf project is moving forward, according to the U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“This project has been stuck in the mud for too long, but my conversation today with the Office of Management and Budget was encouraging,” Vitter said. “The Mississippi River is far too important for our nation’s commerce to see long delays with deepening projects like this – delays which only serve to hurt job growth and our global competitiveness.”
Earlier yesterday, Vitter spoke with Sally Ericsson, Associate Director at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who told him that the Army Corps of Engineers has the necessary funding to move forward on the study. Once the study is completed, the project can be deepened to 50 feet. That part of the Mississippi River is currently 45 feet deep.
Funds for this study were not allocated in the initial Corps Spend Plan for 2014, but the Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, sent a transmittal letter to Congress this afternoon allocating $50,000 to begin initial work on the study.
According to a study released last year by economist Tim Ryan for the Big River Coalition, dredging the channel beyond its current depths of 45 feet, or 47 feet in some locations, would cost $300 million initially and $90 million in annual maintenance.
Press Release, July 9, 2014