Tenn-Tom Pilot Channel Expected By May 1

Close to two months after dramatic rains and runoff swept down the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (Tenn-Tom) and triggered navigation-halting shoals, the dredge working at Mile 357 on the waterway just below Aberdeen Lock is making steady progress. Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers anticipate the Mike Hooks cutterhead dredge E. Stroud will finish clearing a 150-foot pilot channel below Aberdeen by the end of April.

“At the rate they’re moving, there’s probably 12-1/2 days of dredging left to get the pilot channel at 357,” Justin Murphree, operations project manager for the Tenn-Tom, said during an April 16 industry conference call. “They’re making good progress when they’re dredging, but they’ve had about five days they’ve had to shut down.”

As of April 16, Murphree estimated the E. Stroud was clearing about 400 feet of the pilot channel each day, with about 5,000 feet left to go.

The channel has been completely blocked at Aberdeen. The shoal, which stretched 1.5 miles downriver and reduced depths to six feet or less, amounted to an estimated 400,000 cubic yards of material—almost equal to what the Corps typically dredges from the entire waterway in an average year.

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Murphree said that when the E. Stroud finishes the pilot channel at Mile 357, the dredge will move down to Mile 353 to tackle a 7-foot draft restriction at that point. That shoal should take about a week to clear.

Murphree added that the waterway has quite a few buoys that are out of position. The Coast Guard is working to identify all displaced buoys and reset them, Murphree said.