St. Paul District Steps Up Dredge Plans

Because this year’s floods have brought millions of extra tons of silt to the Upper Mississippi River, the St. Paul Engineer District has begun dredging operations earlier than usual. It currently has three dredge operations working in the Mississippi River: the Dredge Goetz crew at Crats Island, near Wabasha, Minn.; a contracted mechanical dredging crew at Fisher Island, near Alma, Wis.; and a government mechanical dredging crew near Homer, Minn.

In addition to those efforts, the district awarded a dredging contract May 21 for $4.7 million to LS Marine Inc., of St. Paul, to dredge for channel maintenance within the Mississippi River.

Work provided by LS Marine will enable the district to maintain the 9-foot navigation channel after historic spring flooding continues to move sediment into the channel, the district said. The contract provides a minimum guarantee of $1.25 million for two mechanical dredging plants through the end of the 2019 navigation season, with rights to exercise work options through 2024.

“These additional dredge operations are critical in ensuring the channel is ready for the shipping industry once flood waters recede,” said Dan Cottrell, district dredging manager. “The options on the contract allow us to get to work quickly if we see similar conditions in coming years.”

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The Corps announcement said work is anticipated to begin “in the next few days” after the June 6 announcement, once safety plans are reviewed and a pre-construction meeting is held.

According to Cottrell, the St. Paul District dredges about 980,000 cubic yards of material in a typical year. This year, it has dredged about 160,000 cubic yards already, with another 160,000 cubic yards scheduled and up to 1.1 million cubic yards that has yet to be scheduled.  The St. Paul District borrowed a dredge from the Rock Island District to cope with the extra dredging but has since returned it.

The St. Paul District spent about $26 million last year on dredging; this year, it has been allocated $29 million.

Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Reduction

The St. Paul District is also working with contractor Ames Construction Inc. to resume construction activities on the diversion inlet structure near Horace, N.D., in mid-June.

The diversion inlet structure is a part of the Fargo, N.D./Moorhead, Minn., flood risk management project. The inlet structure phase of the project includes building a concrete control structure with three gates that will regulate flows into the diversion channel.

Funding for this project feature was included in the Corps of Engineers Fiscal Year 2016 and 2018 work plans.

The complete Fargo-Moorhead flood risk management project plan includes a 30-mile earthen channel, a 12-mile long southern embankment, 19 highway bridges, four railroad bridges, three gated control structures and two aqueduct structures.