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Report backs funding for deepening Mississippi River Ship Channel

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A plan to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50 feet, equal to that of the Panama Canal, has received the key backing of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

A report by Corps of Engineers Director of Civil Works James C. Dalton stated the project was “economically justified and environmentally sustainable” and recommended approval of funding for the deepening of the channel. The deepening of the Mississippi ship channel would be the first port complex on the US East Coast to offer a draught of 50 feet, and equal the depth of the Panama Canal.

The project would provide a draft of 50-feet from the Gulf of Mexico upriver 256 miles to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, also covering the ports of New Orleans, South Louisisana and Plaquemines Port, Harbour and Terminal District, which move more than 500m tons of cargo.

The ship channel is currently maintained at a depth of 45-feet.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said: “One in five jobs in Louisiana is tied to our ports and this project will help to make our world-renowned port system even more competitive, while creating opportunities for manufacturers, growers and producers who rely on our ports up and down the entire Mississippi River.” 

The federal share of the project would be $118.1m, while the estimated non-federal share would be $39.4m.

 “Louisiana is our nation’s gateway to the world for commerce, so it is vitally important we continue to be globally competitive in shipping capacity. Deepening the Mississippi River Ship Channel is very important for Louisiana, and is also strategically important to the nation as a whole. I have consistently fought to move this project forward in Congress, and I will continue working with my colleagues to make sure it is funded as soon as possible,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. 

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