Vinton And West Calcasieu Ports Award $2 Million In Dredging Contracts

Earlier this month, a pair of West Louisiana ports—West Calcasieu Port and the Port of Vinton—announced they have awarded dredging contracts aimed at improving port access and boosting space for barges.

West Calcasieu Port leaders announced February 8 that its board of commissioners had awarded a contract with a base value of $1.3 million to Hammond, La.-based Coastal Dredging Company Inc. in order to dredge the port’s west barge basin.

The project, which will dredge a 20-acre area down to a depth of 12 feet, will be paid for in part by the Louisiana Department of Transportation’s Port Construction and Development Priority Program. The state grant will pay up to 90 percent of the construction costs, with the port paying the balance.

Port leaders said the motivation for dredging the basin is twofold: demand for barge fleeting space and the ability to use the removed material to further develop the port.

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“Demand for barge fleeting facilities in Southwest Louisiana has grown over the last several years, and all the regional economic indicators point to a continuing growth in that demand,” said Lynn Hohensee, director of West Calcasieu Port. “For that reason, our port board of commissioners have led the way in securing the necessary state funding support for the dredging of our 20-acre barge basin to assure the highest quality conditions for our tenants’ daily operations.”

West Calcasieu Port is located on the north shore of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway just west of the Calcasieu Ship Channel below Lake Charles, La. Twelve miles south of Interstate 10, West Calcasieu Port offers 2,500 feet of waterfront property on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

An estimated 138,000 cubic yards will be removed to bring the barge basin’s depth to 12 feet. Hohensee said that material will be pumped to the port’s existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-approved disposal area, which covers close to 40 acres.

“Our long-term plan for that area is to use dredge spoils to elevate the dedicated spoils reception site to approximately 20 feet above sea level, at which time it will become a prime business development site,” Hohensee said.

The following week, on February 14, the nearby Port of Vinton announced its board of commissioners had voted to award a base contract of $832,672 to Mandeville, La.-based Magnolia Dredge & Dock LLC to dredge the mouth of the Vinton Navigation Channel.

Hohensee, who is also director of the Port of Vinton, said the project will drastically increase the operational depth of the channel, which extends northward from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway west of the Calcasieu Ship Channel.

“When completed, the dredging project will deepen the channel from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway northward approximately 1,945 linear feet,” he said.

In all, the project will deepen the existing mouth of the Vinton Navigation Channel from 6.5 feet in spots to a depth of 10.5 feet. As in the West Calcasieu Port dredging project, material removed as part of the Port of Vinton project will be beneficially used. Hohensee said the sand will be pumped to a nearby privately-owned property where it will enhance an existing marsh habitat.

A portion of the funding for the project will come from an economic development grant awarded by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury (a type of city council). Because the Vinton Navigation Channel receives runoff from western Calcasieu Parish, about $500,000 of the total project cost will come from tax income connected to a local drainage district.

The Port of Vinton covers more than 800 acres and exists to support private investment and business development at the upper end of the Vinton Navigation Channel.