The Vicksburg Engineer District continues to address shoaling on the lower reaches of the Red River just below Lindy C. Boggs Lock and Dam, the first lock on the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway.
The district first deployed the dredge Dubuque to the lower approach of Lock 1 on November 16. The lock is located at Mile 43.8, or about 11 miles north of Marksville, La. The dredge is making a trio of cuts at the lower approach, after which it will move downstream just three-tenths of a mile to the next problem spot.
The lock was closed to navigation for routine maintenance from the end of August through November 12, except for a week-and-a-half-long opening in October. During that time, though, with drought conditions worsening in the Red River Valley and extreme low water on the Lower Mississippi River, stakeholders were concerned that the available draft in “the gauntlet” below Lock 1 could drop below the authorized 9 feet.
Leading up to the lock’s reopening, rain in the region and higher stages on the Mississippi River raised the water level in the gauntlet above the minimum mark necessary for a 9-foot draft. As of this week, the gage below Lock 1 was just above 12.4 feet. A gage reading between 5.5 feet and 6 feet at the lower approach to Lock 1, prior to the dredging, translated to an available draft of about 9 feet.
And while the Mississippi River at the Red River Landing is forecast to see a slow fall in the immediate future, rain remains in the forecast for the Red River Valley.
The Dubuque, which its crew affectionately calls “Ugly Betty,” is a cutterhead dredge with a 12-inch pipe. Besides the Dubuque’s onboard crew, the dredge is accompanied by a pair of boat tenders, the Evie Kate and the Clinton.
Caption for photo: The cutterhead dredge Dubuque works on the lower Red River. (Vicksburg Engineer District photo)