Industries likely to reap benefits from Mississippi River deepening project

Brian Baiamonte

If an Army Corps of Engineers plan to deepen the Mississippi River channel to Baton Rouge moves forward, as appears likely, a variety of industries along the river will undoubtedly benefit.

As Baton Rouge Business Report details in a recent feature, the goal of the $237.7 million project is to increase channel depths to 50 feet, up from 45 feet, enabling owners to load existing ships to capacity—instead of periodically “short loading” them—while also allowing larger vessels to traverse the waterway.

The plan passed a major bureaucratic hurdle this summer when Corps Senior Civil Engineer James Dalton recommended approval, saying in a press release that the deepening project is “economically justified and environmentally sustainable.”

Dredging the channel would make ports along the river the first on the Gulf Coast to reach the same depth as the Panama Canal, paving the way for new Panamax vessels to reach Baton Rouge. The vessels, which require a draft depth of 49.9 feet, would have clear sailing the entire 256-mile stretch from Southwest Pass to Baton Rouge, provided their superstructures fit below the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans.

Read the full story about how Baton Rouge could reap rewards from the deepening project.