Dredging Underway To Bring 16-Foot Channel To Port Of Iberia

The Port of Iberia is in the midst of a dredging project to bring a 16-foot channel from the Gulf of Mexico to the inland port in south-central Louisiana. The port, located on the southern end of the town of New Iberia, connects to the Gulf by way of the Acadiana Gulf of Mexico Access Channel (AGMAC), a 50-mile-long waterway that consists of the uppermost Commercial Canal, a segment of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) and Freshwater Bayou.

At present, the average depth of the Commercial Canal, which runs north-south from the port to the GIWW, is 12 feet. The GIWW offers a channel depth of 16 feet, and Freshwater Bayou ranges from 11 to 14 feet.

Work began on the project in 2021 with the deepening of four pipelines that cross the Commercial Canal to accommodate dredging the channel. Construction costs for deepening pipelines belonging to Shell, Boardwalk, Kinder Morgan and Energy Transfer totaled nearly $16 million.

Magnolia Dredge & Dock is currently working to deepen the Commercial Canal to 16 feet to match the available draft in the GIWW.

“The Commercial Canal dredging project involves approximately 1.4 million cubic yards of dredge material,” said Craig Romero, executive director of the Port of Iberia. “In total, it is estimated that more than 3 million cubic yards will be dredged from the AGMAC channel in order to have a consistent channel [depth of] 16 feet.”

Dredging is expected to be complete late this year.

“Deeper waters within the AGMAC corridor will better facilitate existing and new businesses within the Port of Iberia by accommodating deeper-draft vessels,” Romero said. “The primary businesses benefitting from the deeper waters involve offshore fabrication and heavier modular construction.”

Romero said a minimum channel depth of 16 feet will also allow the Port of Iberia to diversify its operations, attract new customers and drive job growth in the region.

The project has been paid for by more than $93 million in capital outlay funds from the Louisiana state legislature.

“It has taken 20 years to get this project going,” Romero said. “We would not be this far had it not been for the support of our legislators.”

The Port of Iberia has access to more than 2,000 acres of industrial and manufacturing space, waterfront property with utilities and rail access and connections to U.S. Highway 90 and the I-49 corridor.