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Amphibious Excavators Working in Louisiana Marsh to Build MRGO Maintenance Material Site

Low ground pressure equipment is necessary when building dredged material placement sites and doing wetland restoration in low-lying areas. Marsh Buggies Inc. is using their amphibious excavators to build 28,000 feet of dikes for a placement site in a marshy area of Louisiana, to be used for maintenance material from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

The company manufactures an amphibious undercarriage comprising tracked pontoons that provide both propulsion and flotation. An excavator is mounted on the undercarriage. In muddy or boggy areas, the excavator maneuvers on the tracks, and can float when water depth exceeds four feet. The moving tracks propel it much like paddle wheels. Though the machine can float when moving from place to place, the undercarriage must be touching bottom while it is digging.

The excavator can be as large as 50 metric tons (112,000 pounds) or as small as seven metric tons (15,680 pounds). The majority of Marsh Buggies' rental fleet uses Cat excavators, but they can custom build to suit whatever model or size excavator is required by the customer, and the undercarriage is sized to match the excavator, said Kim Autin, vice president.

Bucket sizes range from ¾ to four yards.

A cutter/mulcher attachment is available for clearing of right-of-ways.

"We are highly involved in Louisiana, Southern Texas and Alabama," said Autin. "These units are required in lowland and marshy areas to assist in building levee systems for disposal sites, and then for moving the pipeline during the dredging operation," he said.

The company is doing a turnkey project for Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel, building a dredged material placement site in Hopedale, Louisiana for material from maintenance of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO). The project includes building five containment dikes of various lengths for marsh and land restoration. There will be a total of 28,000 linear feet of dikes in the completed area. The material in the area is silty clay soil.

Another application is for dredging in enclosed ponds where there is no room for large dewatering areas. The excavator places material into a hopper mounted on tracked pontoons that transports the material to an off-loading area.

Marsh Buggies, Inc. has been headquartered in Belle Chase, Louisiana for more than 35 years, where they have a manufacturing facility located on three acres of land, employing 30 people. Products include the amphibious undercarriage, as well as several other types of cargo and personnel carrier models. Many of the units have been shipped overseas.

The company acts as a contractor, using vehicles from its rental fleet. Excavators can be rented by the hour with an operator, or as a bare rental without operator. The web site is www.marshbuggies.com

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