Corps OKs Columbia Dredgingby Associated Press
Spokesman Review, January 4, 2002
PORTLAND -- The Army Corps of Engineers gave its approval Thursday to a $196 million project to deepen the Columbia River channel by 3 feet to improve shipping, despite concerns about the impact on salmon.
The dredging would allow massive ships to carry more cargo to the Port of Portland, linking maritime traffic to the key railroad center for the Pacific Northwest.
The project would cover 1031/2 miles from the mouth of Columbia at Astoria to its confluence with the Willamette River at Portland, deepening the river from its current average of 40 feet to 43 feet.
The project was approved by Congress in 1999, but it was delayed after federal and state officials raised environmental questions in 2000.
Port of Portland officials say the project, which includes deepening 12 miles of the Willamette River, would allow a new generation of big ships to travel inland to load export cargo.
The Army Corps of Engineers gave its approval to the project in a biological assessment released Thursday to various regulatory agencies, including the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The assessment said that dredging may have some short-term effects on the river system, but the corps believes the project can be completed without long-term negative effects to salmon or the environment.
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