PORT COMFORT— Samples of the sediment that will be dredged to widen and deepen the Matagorda Ship Channel could be taken as early as May for analysis.
On Tuesday, the Calhoun Port Authority board granted the port permission to advertise for pre-dredge sampling and analysis at a special meeting.
Sampling and analysis of sediments is required for the pre-construction design and engineering phase of the Matagorda Ship Channel Improvement Project that the Calhoun Port Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in a rush to complete by December.
The Corps will use the samples as the basis for geotechnical exploration that provides insight into the quality of the material, which dictates where the 21 million cubic yards of sediment that will be dredged from the channel can be placed.
At a meeting in early March, Coraggio Maglio, chief of hydraulics and hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, said the Corps was working under tight deadlines for the widening and deepening project.
“Typically, when we go through an effort like this, we have a year, year and a half or two years to do what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re condensing it down to 4 to 5 months so we’re tightening our timelines and working as fast as we can.”
On Tuesday, Port Director Charles Hausmann said all of the plans and specifications for the sampling and analysis are created by the Corps. The Port decided to contract out the sampling and analysis itself because it can do it faster, he said.
“The sooner we can get it (the advertisement) out, the sooner we can get it (the project) finished,” he said. “It speeds up the project engineering and design to make sure that we stay on our December schedule for competition.”
Port Engineer Felicia Harral said the first advertisement is set to be published at the end of the week, but not until the Corps adds more coordinates for additional areas to sample to the plan.
In other news, the board also approved a contract with Lloyd Engineering for a mitigation project that is required in conjunction with the LD-1 Dredging Project on the South Peninsula.
The site includes the enhancement of marshes in about a 14-acre stretch of Lavaca Bay on the north side of the SH 35 Causeway that was selected in part because the bay bottom is clear of oysters.
Last month, the Port accepted a proposal from Belaire Environmental for consultation on design, bidding and construction monitoring of the migration site.
Lloyd will be doing the engineering and design portion of the project for Belaire, Hausmann said.
In response to a question from Board Member J. C. Melcher Jr. about where the building material for the project will come from, Harral said specifications were intentionally left out of the proposal.
“We’re going to want Belaire to make those decisions as we go through,” she said. “It kind of leaves us the freedom of Belaire managing where they’re getting it (the material) from and they’re coordinating that with us.”
The mitigation project has to be started within 18 months of the start of the dredging on the South Peninsula, but it will likely start sooner, Hausmann said.
Board members also amended a memorandum of understanding with IDE Americas that grants a 30-day extension of the non-binding agreement, which allows IDE to study whether a desalination treatment facility at the port would be economically feasible.
Desalination is the process of removing dissolved salts from seawater or brackish water to generate additional fresh water sources for residential and industrial use.
Hausmann previously told the Advocate that a desalination plant would be important for future industry to grow and thrive at the Port.
The Port approved the original memorandum with IDE in March 2020.