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Dredging Resumes in Michigan After Spring Thaw

This spring, Luedtke Engineering Co. resumed dredging on the Cheyboygan River in Michigan. Here, Luedtke’s bottom dump scow begins to empty.

This spring, Luedtke Engineering Co. resumed dredging on the Cheyboygan River in Michigan. Here, Luedtke’s bottom dump scow begins to empty.

By April 20, the ice in the northern reaches of Lake Huron had cleared enough for Luedtke Engineering Company to resume dredging on the Cheboygan River in northern Michigan.

The company had begun dredging on December 27, 2014. “On the 31st, we got iced out,” said Kurt Luedtke, president of the Frankfort, Michigan-based marine engineering company. “We can’t break ice, so we have to look for when it clears.”

Luedtke’s Derrick Boat #10 with the crane and clamshell bucket begin to fill an empty scow. In the forefront is the Tug Ann Marie.

The maintenance dredging project, funded by the Army Corps of Engineers, was designed to return the navigation channel back to a width of 200 feet. Silting over the years had gradually narrowed the channel to 75 feet. Cheboygan is the home port of the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, the Coast Guard’s only heavy icebreaker on the Great Lakes.

Luedtke Engineering’s Derrick Boat #10 used a Manitowoc crane, a clamshell bucket and bottom dump scow to perform the work. It used both an eight-cubic-yard Cable Arm bucket and a 4.5-cubic-yard Anvil bucket, depending on the material on the floor of the inner river channel and the outer harbor. The scow carried dredged material out to the open lake for disposal.

Luedtke said that dredging in the winter is a lot like dredging in the summer, only colder. “We don’t really do anything different with the equipment,” he said. “ We keep it manned 24-hours a day, so it keeps running.”

The big difference, he said, is that there are more safety procedures for workers to keep in mind in the winter, so they are less productive.

Luedtke Engineeering finished dredging the Cheboygan River and harbor on May 2.

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