The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, awarded three contract options in the amount of $4.3 million to Orion Marine Construction Inc. for dredging of additional reaches of the Matagorda Ship Channel in Matagorda and Calhoun counties, Texas.
The contractor is required to remove approximately 1,985,000 cubic yards of material with an estimated completion date of early 2015.
“Maintenance dredging is required annually to provide adequate channel availability for ships navigating the Matagorda Ship Channel,” said George Dabney, an operations manager in the USACE Galveston District’s Navigation Branch. “All dredged material from this contract will be placed in open-water, unconfined placement areas.”
According to Dabney, these contract options are an extension of a $5.77 million dredging contract in 2014 that allowed for the removal of approximately 1.2 million cubic yards of material from Matagorda Peninsula to Point Comfort. A portion of the contract was paid for with non-federal funds from the Calhoun Port Authority for the dredging of port berthing areas.
“A unique benefit of this recently-completed contract featured cooperative partnering with the Audubon Society as well as state and federal resource agencies for the beneficial use of approximately 126,000 cubic yards of dredged material on Sundown-Island (an Audubon Society colonial waterbird sanctuary) to enhance bird habitat,” said Dabney. “The rookery island was under constant attack from strong currents, wind, ship wakes and storms, resulting in shoreline erosion that destroyed more than 20 percent of the 60-acre island.”
According to Dabney, adding sediment to the beach from nearby dredging added approximately five acres to the island, offsetting erosion for years and providing new habitat important for ground nesting species.
The Matagorda Ship Channel was constructed in the 1960s to allow deep-draft vessels to travel between the Gulf of Mexico and Matagorda and Lavaca Bays. The channel is part of Port of Port Lavaca – Point Comfort, a major sea port in the state and nation, and carries approximately 11.6 million tons of commerce annually.