Still time to comment on ship channel project

The Army Corps of Engineers is allocating $500 million for Texas-based projects, including the Matagorda Ship Channel and the channel to Victoria, according to a news release.

The Matagorda Ship Channel and the channel to Victoria received a collective $11.9 million for maintenance from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Both projects are maintenance dredging which will clear out excess sediments along the bed of the channels, said Karl Brown, chief of project operations with the Galveston district of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps of Engineers is allocating a total of $500 million for Texas-based projects.

“We’re always working to maintain these channels,” he said.

The Matagorda Ship Channel project received $8.9 million for the dredging from the Matagorda Peninsula to Point Comfort, which is more than 20 miles, Brown said.

The Victoria channel project received $3 million for the dredging from the lower reach of the Intracoastal Waterway to Green Lake, which is about 8 to 10 miles, he said.

The Matagorda Ship Channel is receiving funding through the feasibility studies fund, while the channel to Victoria will receive funding through the Operations and Maintenance Construction projects fund, according to an agency news release issued Tuesday.

Maintenance on these locations are typically done every 18 to 24 months, Brown said.

A timeframe for the projects is unknown at this time because contractors for the job have not been selected. Once the job is open, contractors will bid for the job and the lowest bid will be selected. At that point, the contract usually lasts six to nine months, Brown said.

Both channels are important to the local economy, he said. The Matagorda Ship Channel is one of the leading locations for aluminum shipments. Brown said if this channel were to shut down the price of aluminum would increase.

Caterpillar’s operation in Victoria and is dependent on the channel for work, Brown said.

“I know a lot of jobs would be lost if that ship channel went down,” he said.

He said dredging along the channels will deepen the drafts and vessels can carry more materials and make fewer stops along the way, which will save money.

The dredged materials taken out of the Matagorda Ship Channel will be used to create habitats for fish and birds in Bird Island Basin, Brown said.

Samantha Douty is an intern at the Victoria Advocate. She covers general assignment stories and the police beat. She can be reached at 361-580-6315.

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