West Calcasieu Port Finishes Barge Basin Dredging

Officials from West Calcasieu Port, located in Sulphur, La., about 12 miles south of Interstate 10 along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, announced August 24 that work to dredge the port’s west barge basin is complete, with all tenant operations back at full force.

Hammond, La.-based Coastal Dredging conducted the $1.3 million project, which dredged 140,000 cubic yards of material over a 10-week period. The project returned the barge basin to a depth of 10 feet.

West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee said it’s been more than eight years since the port’s barge basin was last dredged.

“Periodic dredging of the basin is needed to keep the 75 to 90 barge spaces in a safe and operationally sound condition, so that our port tenants can efficiently fleet and service the shallow water barges that daily come in and out of our port fleet,” Hohensee said. “This is especially critical to our support for our port tenants who facilitate barge fleeting and cleaning and repair services for 120 to 150 barges daily.”

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The first phase of the project involved lifting the levees around the port’s 39.5-acre disposal area so that it had adequate capacity to receive the dredge material from the barge basin. Levees around that disposal area are now 17 feet high. Lifting the levees and filling the disposal area had a two-fold purpose, Hohensee said, adding that the site could eventually be developed to accommodate additional tenants.

Hohensee said the push to secure funding for dredging the barge basin was in response to a growing need for fleeting space in that part of the state.

“Demand for barge fleeting facilities in Southwest Louisiana has grown over the last several years, and all regional economic indicators point to a continuing growth in that demand,” he said. “For that reason, our port board of commissioners has led the way in applying for the state funding that made this barge maintenance project possible.”

To help fund the dredging project, West Calcasieu Port received just over $1 million from the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development’s Port Construction and Development Priority Program.

“The Port Priority Fund grant is limited to 90 percent of the construction costs related to the dredging project,” Hohensee said. “The port is using internal funding to cover the costs associated with the balance of the construction costs as well as the engineering and permitting costs associated with the project.”

Major tenants that use the West Calcasieu Port barge basin include Devall Towing, River Barge Works and Tubal-Cain Marine Services, according to the port. Tenant services offered at the port include barge fleeting, marine construction, dry cargo barge cleaning, wet barge cleaning, diesel engine repair and concrete pumping.