Emergency dredging contract awarded for St. Joe harbor

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:17 AM

MCM Marine Inc. of Sault Ste. Marie will dredge 6,000 cubic yards of material from the St. Joseph harbor.

Dredging will begin as soon as possible, as the harbor ships or receives about a half-million tons annually, according to the Corps of Engineers. Dredging the harbor will take 2-3 days to complete, depending on the weather.

The Corps of Engineers is providing emergency dredging to the outer harbor at St. Joseph to address significant shoaling that is preventing commercial vessels from entering the harbor. The authorized depth of the outer channel is 21 feet, but recent sounding data shows a shoaled area with less than 16 feet of available depth across the entire width of the federal navigation channel.

An extreme storm event that occurred in late September and early October resulted in the excessive shoaling. The combination of winds occasionally gusting as high as 60 mph and a constant north-northwest surface wind resulted in waves building to the 20- to 25-foot range on southern Lake Michigan — the highest recorded waves in that area since 1981.

The Corps plans to dredge a 200-foot-wide channel through the shoaled area. After the harbor is opened, shippers and dock owners have indicated they will run ships through Jan. 15, the end of the shipping season, to make deliveries.

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