How long does it take to dredge a mile of the Mississippi?

Kurt Wayne

They just had on MSNBC a reporter who said he spoke with the manager of the Port Fourchon onshore oil terminal...the manager said the terminal would be OK, but that the channel to it had been backed up by silt pushed by Katrina from the ocean.

If there's significant channel damage to the three passes in the mouth of the Mississippi (its widest point) how long could that take to remedy, given that's our most significant American waterway/inland shipping lane?
NOLA article

Only article I could find in recent days on the boat pilots, who are very significant to our nation:

River pilots halt

Meanwhile, a river pilot group stopped taking ships in and out of the Mississippi River on Saturday.

The Associated Branch Pilots, a group of state-commissioned river pilots who guide all foreign ships through the mouth of the Mississippi, discontinued services after guiding the 2,052-passenger Carnival Cruise Line ship the Sensation down the river.

The Sensation is scheduled to return to the Port of New Orleans on Thursday. Another Carnival ship, the 2,974-passenger Conquest, was diverted to Galveston, Texas, port spokesman Chris Bonura said. The Conquest had been scheduled to arrive in New Orleans today. Passengers aboard the Conquest will receive a transportation stipend to pay for their trip back to New Orleans, Bonura said. The Conquest does not have another trip planned this week.

Associated Branch Pilot President Mike Lorino said he did not know when the pilots would begin bringing ships in and out of the river again.

"Hurricane Camille went through that same area, and it annihilated Pilottown," Lorino said of the devastating 1969 storm. "It would be wonderful if we could get back to work Tuesday, but something would have to change in its current track."
Thanks, Cole, but I wish I hadn't found it.

I'm just thinking of these cities who send and receive cargo down the Mississippi:


Minneapolis/St. Paul
Davenport/Moline/Rock Island
St. Louis
Baton Rouge
New Orleans




Sioux City
Kansas City


Fort Smith
Little Rock


Alexandria, LA

Maybe I'm making more out of this than needs to be, but I fear this could be equally significant in the long run depending upon the channel damage.
as expected

The bottom part of the Mississippi River remained closed Monday after Hurricane Katrina tossed empty barges, destroyed navigation markers and possibly re-channeled parts of the waterway, the U.S. Coast Guard and a river industry group reported.

It may take barge operators and the U.S. Coast Guard several days to several weeks to determine the brunt of the storm's damage. The Mississippi River plays a vital role in America's export economy, because farmers rely on the waterway as a cheap source of transportation to ship their goods to New Orleans. That besieged city serves as a jumping-off point for overseas shipments. Fortunately, peak grain shipments don't begin until October.

"This is America's third coast," said Paul Rohde, president of the Midwest Area River Coalition 2000.

"Moving grain from the bread basket to New Orleans is key to all of the nation's economy," Rohde said. "Grain shipments are one of the few bright spots in our trade deficit."

Damage assessments are still underway along the Mississippi corridor, but river users are optimistic that commerce will resume before the U.S. grain harvest reaches full swing in October. “We’re hoping that by the time we get into meat and potatoes of export season, we should have the port back in order,â€￾ says Paul Rohde, a spokesman for MARC 2000, a river user group based in St. Louis.


At the moment, barge companies are still quantifying damage and accounting for their employees, Rohde says. The fact that at least one levee was breached could complicate the resumption of river transport, he adds, but it will take several days to complete assessments. “If the port were to be closed until late November, that would severely impact markets, but at this point it’s speculation,â€￾ he says.

Until more information is known, “Hurricane Katrina could either be a small blip or a major player in the transportation story,â€￾ Rohde says.
port fourchon isnt on the mississippi anyway. its on Bayou Lafourche/Belle Pass.

I will take relatively little dredging to get Fourchon accessible.
As long as

Bayou Lafourche / Belle pass still exists. (Grand Isle is 5 miles E/NE and supposedly it may be history.)

But the comments of the Port Fourchon manager indicate the facility should be fine. But he also said there's a lot of silt in the nearby channels, and;

More than 600 offshore platforms are within 40 miles of Port Fourchon, according to the port's Web site.

``It's going to be extremely difficult to supply and repair platforms if the port is closed,'' Falgout said. ``The nearest alternative location for logistics is Venice, Louisiana, which was totally destroyed.''

Repairs to Gulf platforms and pipelines damaged by Hurricane Katrina will be delayed if the storm deposited silt in the port's channel, Falgout said.

MSN Money: Katrina delays New Orleans farm shipments

"It'll probably be a ripple effect," said Paul Rohde, president of MARC 2000, a St. Louis-based shippers' coalition. "As the Port of New Orleans puts itself back together, that will determine how quickly it's going to be able to process products."

In the worst-case scenario, snarled river traffic would force shippers to rely on rail or truck transportation, which are more expensive options, particularly with fuel costs rising.

"It would have to be shipped somehow, and the transportation costs would skyrocket as a result of one of only three modes of transportation being eliminated," Rohde said.

The Mississippi River is the cheapest route for shipping many crops and other commodities destined for overseas markets. The United States exports a quarter of the grain it produces; of that amount, more than half departs from Mississippi Gulf ports hit by Katrina.

Katrina also flattened cotton in parts of Mississippi and Alabama and sugar cane in Louisiana, which will reduce yields as well as quality. Cotton prices rose in response Tuesday on the futures market.

The good news is that corn and soybeans, the major crops shipped through New Orleans, are still growing in most parts of the country, and harvest is a few weeks off.

"Although there's never a good time, it's not as critical as it would be, say, six or eight weeks down the road, when there would be a flood of corn and soybeans coming down the river," said Terry Francl, economist for American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington.