On November 21, 2018, Representative Peter DeFazio announced more than $34 million in additional funding was allocated to Oregon Ports by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). About $9.7 million was allocated to the Coos Bay to cover projects, including dredging River Mile (RM) 12 to 15 of the Coos Bay River. This section spans from the Oregon Chip terminal to the Georgia Pacific Sawmill site and has not been maintained since 2010. This stretch of the channel needs to be dredged to restore deep draft vessel access to existing and future industries in the upper bay.
The Corps released an Invitation to Bid for the Coos Bay Upriver Clamshell Maintenance Dredging project earlier this year and has contracted with American Construction Co., Inc. to complete the project. Approximately 930,000 cubic yards (CY) will be dredged between River Mile (RM) 12 to 15. The Corps is limited to removing up to 1 million CY of material in a given dredge season. However, there is approximately 2.5 million CY to be removed in RM 12 to 15 to get to authorized depth of -37' Mean Low Low Water (MLLW). As such, the Corps will not be able to dredge this section to the full authorized depth of 37’ MLLW within the dredging season and estimates that they will be able to dredge to 32’ MLLW.
American Construction will start dredging operations on July 1, 2019. Work will be continuous 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Contract completion date is set for October 31, 2019. They will be using a clamshell dredge “Patriot” to dredge and load the split hull scows “Liberty” and “Freedom.” This will then be towed by Pacific Tug Company’s “John Brix” to the designated disposal sight. Water quality monitoring will be required during maintenance activities.
Regular maintenance dredging helps balance safety, economic, and environmental requirements of navigation waterways. As the non-federal sponsor of the channel, the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay holds the Unified Dredging Permit for terminals along the 15-mile navigational channel. This allows terminals within the bay to dredge their terminals to ensure vessels can moor safely and efficiently. The Port advises waterway users to practice safety and exercise caution when transiting and recreating in the upper bay during maintenance dredging this summer. Mariners are urged to use extreme caution in the area due to dredge operations and equipment in the bay. Transit at the slowest safe speed to minimize wake and proceed with caution after passing arrangements have been made.