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Atchafalaya Deepening Subject of Meeting

20-foot channels in the Morgan City area proposed to be deepened to as much as 35 feet.  Map couresy New Orleans District, Corps of Engineers.

20-foot channels in the Morgan City area proposed to be deepened to as much as 35 feet. Map couresy New Orleans District, Corps of Engineers.

The New Orleans District, Corps of Engineers will hold a public meeting on August 8 on deepening the channels of the lower Atchafalaya River and nearby bayous.

The authorized depth is 20 feet in the Atchafalaya below the railroad bridge in Morgan City, Atchafalaya Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and Bayous Chene, Boeuf and Black – about 48 miles of channel.

The Corps is beginning a feasibility study on whether deepening the channels to as deep as 35 feet would result in fabrication of oil and gas platforms in the Morgan City area that would otherwise be built overseas. Deepening channels in the area to 35 feet would add about 13 miles to the channel’s seaward end.

As offshore oil exploration has moved into deeper water, many of the larger platforms required for deepwater production are being built overseas because there are not enough fabrication yards in the United States with channels deep enough to launch today’s platforms. Also, service and supply vessels for deepwater rigs require deeper access channels.

Partners in the study are the Corps of Engineers and the Port of Morgan City, who will share the $4.4 million cost 50-50.

At the meeting, to be held on August 8 at 7 p.m. at the Morgan City Auditorium, 728 Myrtle Street, the public can comment on issues and alternatives in the environmental impact statement to be prepared with the study.

These will tentatively include tidally influenced coastal wetlands (marshes and swamps), aquatic resources, commercial and recreational fisheries, wildlife resources, essential fish habitat, water quality, air quality, threatened and endangered species, recreation resources and cultural resources.

Socioeconomic topics to be evaluated include navigation, flood protection, business and industrial activity, employment, land use, property values, public/community facilities and services, tax revenues, population, community and regional growth, transportation, housing, community cohesion and noise.

Besides deepening the channels to 35 feet mean low Gulf, the meeting will cover beneficial use of the material dredged from the channels.

Project manager for the study is Joey Dykes, New Orleans District Corps of Engineers, phone 504-862-2507; email: joseph.l.dykes@mvn02.usace.army.mil. For questions on the environmental impact statement, contact Michael Salyer, 504-862-2037, email: michael.r.salyer@mvn02.usace.army.mil

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