MORGAN CITY — The Port of Morgan City is preparing to begin a $15 million to $17.6 million project to dredge the Bar Channel, depending on whether or not the entire channel is cleared.
Port of Morgan City Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir said the waterway commonly called the Bar Channel is a stretch of water that runs from the mouth of the Atchafalaya to the Gulf of Mexico.
The work is critical to maintain a depth of 20 feet and keep the channel open to ships entering and leaving the port.
He said he felt the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will decide to dredge the entire channel.
The contract for the project, which is being funded by the Corps, has been awarded to Great Lakes Dredging and Dock Co.
Hoffpauir said the company, based out of Chicago, is returning to dredge the waterway for the first time since 1981, but Great Lakes is well known and regularly does work in the area through the USACE.
Work is slated to begin on the project in July.
“The project is expected to take between two and four months to complete, during which time 150,000 to 185,000 cubic yards of material will be removed daily,” Hoffpauir said.
Due to an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if the project continues past July 31, the disposal area will have to be moved 2,500 feet to the east side of the channel in lieu of the original spoil site 5,000 feet to the west.
Hoffpauir said the original agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to place the spoil on the east side of the channel expired, and he was holding out hope a new one could be put into place before the project was completed.
“If we can place the spoil to the west, we can usually get the work done 10 to 15 percent faster,” Hoffpauir said. “This is because the currents in the Gulf in that area generally flow from west to east.”
He said he hoped to be able to reach an agreement with the EPA to continue dumping the spoil at the western location after July 31, but agreements with the agency generally take time to formulate and put into effect.