Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson last week joined officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to announce an agreement for the deepening of the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico through Baton Rouge has been authorized and signed.
“This is a great day for the people of Louisiana who depend on the Mississippi River for their livelihood,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “When completed, this project will allow larger vessels that can currently use the widened Panama Canal to reach Louisiana ports as far north as Baton Rouge. It will also allow for some vessels to carry heavier loads. Nationwide, industries that depend on this Mississippi River to move goods will benefit greatly from this dredging project.”
“The Mississippi River has always been a critical economic engine for the United States and connects our Nation’s heartland to the global economy,” said Major General Diana Holland, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Mississippi Valley Division Commander. “More capacity means greater efficiency in transportation and less costs for our Nation’s producers. From a benefit cost perspective, that equates to a benefit $7.20 for every dollar spent on operation and maintenance, a significant return on investment.”
The project will deepen the lower portion of the Mississippi River from 45 feet to 50 feet, and in turn, provide deep draft access to the ports at Plaquemines, New Orleans, South Louisiana and Baton Rouge.
Funding for the approximately $250 million project has been allocated through a variety of sources. As the non-federal sponsor, DOTD has committed $81 million.
Once completed, the deepening project will provide and expand global markets for Louisiana farmers, manufacturers and neighbors who rely on goods for jobs and their quality of life.
The river and its tributaries account for over $750 billion of the nation’s economy and more than 2.4 million jobs. In Louisiana, one in every five jobs is port-related with the ports comprising almost 23 percent of the dollar amount for the state’s goods and services.