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Dredging for Columbia River Navigation to Begin

by Staff
The Daily Astorian, February 2, 2006

Two government-owned dredges are picking up where a contractor left off in efforts to deepen the Columbia River navigation channel between the Pacific Ocean and the Portland-Vancouver area.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that work by the Corps' hopper dredge Essayons and the Port of Portland's pipeline dredge Oregon will begin this week to deepen the navigation channel to its authorized depth of 43 feet.

The Essayons will work between river miles 91 and 95 through early March. Materials removed from the riverbed will be placed in approved in-water disposal sites.

The Oregon will work between river miles 40 and 41, placing materials in a scour hole off Puget Island's Welcome Slough in an attempt to address erosion issues that are causing concerns for local residents. The Oregon is expected to complete its work at Welcome Slough by Feb. 15 and will then move to the Vancouver area where she will pump previously handled sands onto the Columbia Gateway site at river mile 101.

The work had been contracted to Bean Stuyvesant, of New Orleans. The $27 million contract called for Stuyvesant to deepen 15 miles in the lower river and for maintenance work at the mouth of the Columbia River, plus options on deepening work in the upper river. The contractor was released from its contract due to unforeseen maintenance and scheduling requirements that were discovered while its dredge was in dry dock.

Work by the Essayons, a federally owned dredge, is a departure from its primary mission: channel maintenance. This will be the first time in nearly 30 years that a federal dredge has been used to deepen or widen a navigation channel. The Corps typically reserves "improvement work" for contract dredges.

"Even though the Essayons is part of our organization, we will treat her as though she is a contractor," said Karen Garmire, who oversees contract dredges for the Corps' Portland District. "Her crew will be held to the same performance standards as the contract fleet, as well as the same monitoring and reporting requirements."

The Columbia River Channel Improvement Project is a collaborative effort between the Corps and six lower river ports in Oregon and Washington to improve navigation in the Columbia River by deepening the navigation channel to accommodate the current fleet of international bulk cargo and container ships, and improve the condition of the Columbia River estuary through the completion of various environmental restoration projects.

Dredging for Columbia River Navigation to Begin
The Daily Astorian, February 2, 2006

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