The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the last section of the Columbia River Channel Improvements Project this week, finishing an effort that took more than 20 years to complete.
The project deepened the Columbia River by three feet, to 43 feet along a 103-mile stretch of river from the Pacific Ocean to Portland, Ore.
The Corps’ contractor J.E. McAmis and its subcontractor Dutra Dredging completed the last section of work between river miles 66 and 67 near Longview, Wash.
“Dutra’s vessel Paula Lee dredged the last material on Wednesday and the Corps survey boat Redlinger did a post-dredge survey on Thursday,” said Mark Dasso, Portland District’s Columbia River Improvements project manager. The post-dredge survey is used to ensure that the work complies with contract requirements, Dasso said.
“Completing this project has been important to regional ports and to shippers alike,” said Dave Hunt, executive director of the Columbia River Channel Coalition. “Everyone is working to take full advantage of this opportunity. For instance, the Port of Longview is building the first export grain terminal to be built in the United States in 25 years.
“The regional ports are all working on facilities or services that will be needed, based on projected increases in goods and commodities that will be imported and exported – three extra feet of depth means increased economic benefits to the entire region,” Hunt said.
The Corps began dredging in 2005. The Columbia River Channel Improvements Project was a collaborative effort between the Corps and six lower Columbia River ports (Portland, Vancouver, Kalama, St. Helens, Longview and Woodland) to improve navigation by deepening the navigation channel to accommodate the current fleet of international bulk cargo and container ships and to improve the condition of the Columbia River estuary through the completion of other environmental restoration projects.
The only actions left for the Corps to complete are planting native plants and trees at Cottonwood Island in spring and settling the accounts with its project partners, Dasso said.