Coast Guard attempting to realign channel
By: JEAN L. KAESS
MORGAN CITY — Attempts to realign the Atchafalaya Upper Bay Channel are under way by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The channel is naturally migrating east, causing the depth between buoys 52 and 58 to be shallower where actually marked than to the east.
In some cases, the channel has migrated 400 to 500 yards east, while it has moved 100 yards east in other areas.
Coast Guard representatives said during Monday’s meeting of the Port of Morgan City board that they are attempting to get temporary permission from the USCG district to move the affected buoys so they can demonstrate that the channel will permanently sustain itself.
Complicating the matter is a pipeline in the area. Tests are needed to confirm the location and depth of the line to ensure clear navigation in the channel.
Meanwhile, an update on the health of the channel was received Monday as well.
It currently is above flood stage, hitting five feet this week, but is receding.
A contract for dredging the Bar Channel and the Berwick Harbor likely will be executed beginning in May. The Atchafalaya Bay will be dredged beginning in August.
Meanwhile, Bollinger has a project due to sail out in three to four months and McDermott has one in December, indicating a timeframe the channel will need to be deep enough for those to make it to sea.
Also during the meeting, the board heard an update from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative Sarah Nash and Moffat and Nichol representative Jonathan Hird who are working together on the agitation dredging project in the Atchafalaya River Channel. The demonstration project was done to measure effectiveness at managing fluff in the bar channel. Preliminary data did not show any clear change in the fluff layer, Nash said. Hird agreed, saying it performed erratically at best.
The Engineer Research and Development Center requested a vessel traffic data report to determine if traffic could have affected survey results. Hird said roughly 190 vessels passed through the area during the two-month analysis with a mean depth of 12 feet. One vessel claiming to draft 40 feet was thrown out as it was a clear outlier, but a 60.4 foot dredger was kept in because of the type of vessel it was.
The draft report currently is under review by the project delivery team.
In other action, the board:
—Agreed to make a $85,692 payment to Gray Construction and approved a change order amounting to $13,000 for sheet pile, both for the cofferdam associated with the Coast Guard boat launch project near the port office on Youngs Road. It is in place and awaiting water levels to reduce to four feet so pumps can run.
—Agreed to make a $16,814 payment on the parking lot project. The next phase is the awning placement. It is on order and should arrive in a couple weeks.
—Approved another amendment to the attorney agreement billing the same amount for attorney Gerard Bourgeois, but at a lesser amount for his partner who has fewer years’ experience.