Mississippi River deepening reaches important milestone

The historic deepening of the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50 feet has reached an important milestone, Port of New Orleans said.

The controlling depth for over 150 miles of the Ship Channel is now set to 49 feet.

“This coordinated increase to 49 feet is a major step toward the increased economic benefits that will be generated by the ability to move additional cargo on vessels calling the Mississippi River,” said the port.

The USACE awarded this first contract for the Ship Channel deepening to Weeks Marine on September 3, 2020, and the Weeks Marine’s dredger Captain Frank started the historic deepening immediately.

Port of New Orleans photo

The overall project will provide a draft of 50-feet from the Port of Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico – over 256 miles of the Mississippi River.

In addition, the material dredged from the first 30 miles of the project near the mouth of the Mississippi River will restore an estimated 1,462 acres of critical marsh habitat.

Phase 1 of the project will provide a 50-foot channel from the Gulf of Mexico through Southwest Pass to Belmont Crossing and open up approximately 175 miles of the ship channel to the deeper draft.

Phase 1 encompasses the entire jurisdiction of the Port of New Orleans, St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District, the Plaquemines Port, Harbor and Terminal District and the majority of the Port of South Louisiana.

Photo: Port of New Orleans