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U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins’ No. 1 priority in Congress is to ensure south Louisiana’s ports get the dredging funds they were promised and can be economic engines for the region, he said Monday. Higgins, R-Lafayette, visited the Port of Morgan City’s Government Emergency Operations Center for a stakeholders meeting with officials in the area. Port Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade spent the day with Higgins showing him the Morgan City area and explaining the economic boost that having region’s waterways adequately dredged could provide. Higgins, who took office in January, said he’s studied the challenges associated with channel dredging “and the ridiculous failure of the federal government to live up to its mandate” and promise to south Louisiana. He represents Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers areas from Morgan City to Lake Charles.


U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy called Monday for decreasing regulations on industry to boost Louisiana’s economy along with making reforms to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and health care. Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, had a town hall meeting Monday at the Port of Morgan City’s Government Emergency Operations Center. The country has to have an economy that creates better jobs for working class families.

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Port of Morgan City leaders say they are relieved to have a roughly one-mile section of the Atchafalaya River dredged and back open to vessel traffic. They are now focusing on a dredge demonstration downriver that they hope will allow officials to keep a 12-mile stretch of the waterway open year-round. Emergency dredging in the Atchafalaya River to remove a 6,000-foot-long plug of sand is complete, officials said during Monday’s Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commission meeting.

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Port officials expect the projected 8-foot crest in the Atchafalaya River to exacerbate the buildup of sediment in the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel, Port of Morgan City Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said. The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commission met Monday. National Weather Service forecasters expect the river to crest March 24 near 8 feet in Morgan City. As of this morning, the river was at 5.8 feet in Morgan City near the 6-foot flood stage. The forecast shows the river reaching 7.2 feet Saturday. The temporary flood protection structure is still in place on Bayou Chene and will hold back almost 2 feet high of water if the river reaches 8 feet, Wade said. There hasn’t been any discussion about opening the Morganza Spillway because the Mississippi River levels aren’t high enough, Port Economic Development Manager Cindy Cutrera said. “We’re getting all of this water from the Red River,” Cutrera said. More high water means more sediment buildup in the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel, Wade said. The channel is congressionally authorized to be dredged to 20 feet deep, but the Corps only has funds to dredge a couple of months a year. “We’ve already got a bad problem. It’s just going to make it worse,” Wade said. Some vessels, including import-export ships, cannot travel to the Port of Morgan City right now due to the sediment buildup. The port has about $5.6 million left in dredging funds for the next six months that will all go toward a dredging demonstration using a self-propelled hopper dredge, Wade said.

0208meetingPort of Morgan City Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade speaks
during Monday’s port meeting held at the new Government Emergency
and Operations Center.  Behind him are screens showing a view of the
Atchafalaya River in Morgan City and an aerial view of the surrounding waterways.


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The Port of Morgan City’s new Government Emergency Operations Center has gotten quite the test during the past month with multiple agencies operating out of the building on a daily basis. Port officials opened the $11 million center in early January, sooner than they expected because of the high water on the Atchafalaya River. The river crested at 8.18 feet Jan. 22 in Morgan City. “We put this thing through an unbelievable test,” Port of Morgan City Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said. The Louisiana National Guard, Corps of Engineers and Levee District have all used the building regularly as an emergency command center. The port commission held its first monthly meeting in the new two-story, Category 5 hurricane resistant center Monday. It is located on La. 182 in Morgan City adjacent to the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium. “It’s been a very, very busy month,” Wade said. Wade thanked officials for all their hard work during that time. Architect Carl Blum said the center, which is 99 percent complete, has a few “punch list” items that should be in place by March. Almost all furniture is in the building as well. About one third of the parking behind the center is done, he said. State officials have approved the plans for the St. Mary Levee District’s office in the building, and the levee district should be able to move in to its permanent home before the end of the summer, Blum said. On Monday, Wade displayed the Touch Assisted Command and Control System that shows live feed at different spots around the port and on the waterways.

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Morgan City Port Terminal District officials hope to position the city as a lucrative import and export market for small vessels by creating a dredge system that agitates mud and keeps it from sticking to the Lower Atchafalaya River bar channel floor. “Traditional maintenance dredging has failed to provide a reliable channel,” Port Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said in a dredging presentation. “It has negatively impacted and limited our ability to attract new customers.” The current cutter head dredges used are not effective for long term luff management. In order to be cost effective, Wade believes removing small accumulations of fluff through agitation is the answer for managing it. Fluff is a term used to describe the bar channel’s muddy floor. There is an accumulation of 8-10 feet of mud underneath 14 feet of usable water, Wade said. The port is authorized to dredge at 20 feet. “We’ve done engineering studies on this, and agitation is the only way to keep this stuff suspended,” Wade said. Wade uses a Nestlé’s Quik mix and milk analogy to explain how fluff settles in the river and the effects of a new dredging system. “You just throw that Nestlé’s Quik in there and if you don’t do anything it’s going to fall right to the bottom and you can see the layer there,” Wade said. “You stir it up, then that chocolate is all the way consistent and that’s the new approach.” The port developed a demonstration dredging project for 2016 to manage the fluff issues in the bar channel. If the demo project proves to be successful, the long term solution is to construct a dredge specifically for fluff. The request for qualifications begins Jan. 14 for bids on the project to the dredging industry. “We hope to have the dredge down there by late March or April, where we can start the test,” Wade said.


National Waterways Conference Gulf Ports Assoc of the Americas Louisiana Industrial Develpment Esecutives Assoc Ports Association of Louisiana Gulf Intracostal Canal Association Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals US Coast Guard Houma

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