Aerial view of the rocks placed along the Crewboat Cut in the Atchafalaya River.
MORGAN CITY — After about eight years of planning and work, the Crewboat Cut is now officially the new federally authorized channel for vessels to travel through on the Atchafalaya River, according to port officials. U.S. Coast Guard personnel marked the Crewboat Cut last week, and the channel officially opened Wednesday, Port of Morgan City Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said. The buoys have been removed from Horseshoe Bend, which was the previously authorized channel, Wade said. “The Horseshoe is no longer there, and it will eventually fill in by itself,” Wade said. “The Crewboat Cut will just keep getting a little deeper and deeper for us.” Dredging of the Crewboat Cut was completed Aug. 4, Mike Lowe of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said at the August port meeting.
The dredging and placement of rocks along the cut were designed to create a self-scouring channel, Lowe said. The Crewboat Cut is 13 miles south of the Port of Morgan City, Wade said. “It’s been about an eight-year process,” Wade said. “That’s how long it takes to move things through the system.” The Oslo Bulk 9, a 360-footlong ship being leased by PMI Nutrition International, made its maiden voyage through the channel Wednesday evening, Wade said. “I even went down there that night to see it myself,” Wade said. In an email, Wade expressed thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the state and federal delegation and the numerous state and federal agencies “who were involved in the very tedious process involved to have Crewboat Cut become a part of the federally authorized Atchafalaya River and Bayous Boeuf, Black and Chene Project.” Wade added, “As funding levels for dredging continue to decrease, having the Crewboat Cut segment of the channel be self-scouring will allow the Port to focus on methods to achieve and maintain a consistently navigable 20-foot depth in the bar channel.” Designating the Crewboat Cut as the new federally authorized channel for vessels to travel through the Atchafalaya River allows the port to not have to spend $2 million to $3 million on dredging every two or three years as it did with the Horseshoe Bend, Wade said. “That money can be directed towards other needs in the area,” Wade said. Dredging of the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel is one of the spots the port can use those savings to dredge that area, he said. The Crewboat Cut will let mariners who use it save money because the new channel subtracts two miles from the trip by not having to go through the Horseshoe Bend, Wade said. “It gives you a straight shot down there now, which really helps,” Wade said.
Published in Daily Review 10-22-14