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A deeper navigable channel for the Mississippi

The Army Corps of Engineers  has just obtained funding from the American Congress of more than $160 million for infrastructure projects in Louisiana in the framework of its Work Plan 2020. $85 million are devoted to increasing the depth of the navigable channel of the Mississippi to 15 metres (about 2 metres deeper than today) in its southernmost reach, between Baton Rouge and the delta. This project, the result of many years’ work and campaigning, will soon become a reality.

Improved competitiveness

The aim of the works is to increase the activity and competitiveness of the Port of New Orleans and develop river traffic on the navigable channel of the Mississippi, by permitting the high capacity Post-Panamax gauge cargo ships that transit through the Panama Canal to enter the ports and sail up the river to Baton Rouge.

photo.1481522.w630 This project will be implemented along a total length of 256 miles and concerns 4 of the country’s 15 top ports: the Plaquemines Port, Harbor and Terminal District; the Port of New Orleans; the Port of South Louisiana; and the Port of Baton Rouge.

The engineers estimate that this project could contribute $127.5 million a year on average to the national economy for a global cost of more than $230 million and an annual cost of maintaining the deepened channel in the region of $17.7 million.

It is noteworthy that the Mississippi already allows the transport of 10% of American goods and 60% of its cereal exports. A total of nearly 500 million tonnes of goods transit on the river every year ( Mississippi fact sheet).

According to Jennifer Carpenter, Chairman and CEO of American Waterways Operators (AWO):

Louisiana, where the American tugboat, towboat, and barge industry supports over 50,000 jobs and generates over $2.5 billion in GDP annually, is an epicenter of American maritime commerce

Creating new wetlands and combating coastal erosion

The other objective is to use the sediments dredged to deepen the channel and then from maintenance dredging to bolster the coastline by creating new wetlands in natural areas and, finally, improve flood protection.



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