FacebookTwitter    Archive | www.aapa-ports.org August 26, 2013

Infrastructure: Mississippi River

Print Print this Article | Send to Colleague

A newly released study commissioned by the Big River Coalition and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADTP) concludes that deepening the Mississippi River to 50 feet would spur $11.49 billion in increased U.S. production, create 16,991 permanent jobs and account for $849.5 million in increased income for American workers.

The Lower Mississippi River channel was originally authorized to be deepened to 55 feet in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986; however, the channel was never deepened below 45 feet due to the requirement by the federal government that annual maintenance beyond 45 feet is the responsibility of the local sponsor, or the State of Louisiana in this case. Recent language passed by the Senate in the latest WRDA bill would shift maintenance costs for up to 50-foot drafts to the federal level. Industry leaders and the Big River Coalition agreed upon a reduced draft from 55 feet to 50 feet to match the controlling draft of the new locks on the Panama Canal.

The plan to deepen the Lower Mississippi River would be accomplished in two phases. Phase one would deepen Southwest Pass to Venice (LA), or Mile 10 above Head of Passes – a 30-mile stretch of river. The first phase would automatically open 175 miles of river to a 50-foot channel, due to the river’s naturally deep channel. Estimates are Phase I’s construction costs would be $195 million
with annual maintenance costs of $60 million. Phase II would begin at Belmont Crossing and dredge several river crossings to Mile 232 at the Baton Rouge Harbor at a cost of $105 million, with annual maintenance costs of $30 million. 

"The economy of the United States is dependent upon the Mississippi River for both the inbound movement of raw materials critical to manufacturing, as well as the outbound movement of goods produced in the United States bound for global markets," said Gary LaGrange, PPM®, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. "For domestic growers, producers and manufacturers to remain competitive, our nation’s maritime highways must be of critical importance to the federal government."

The Big River Coalition consists of more than 110 maritime businesses, trade associations and port authorities in 10 states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. LADPT administers Louisiana’s Port Construction and Development Priority Program.

Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn