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Snake River Channel Dredging Completed

Massive amounts of agricultural commodities are transported by barge on inland waterways.

Posted on March 13, 2023

A dredging contractor for the Walla Walla Engineer District has completed channel-deepening dredging at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers near Clarkston, Wash., and Lewiston, Idaho. The project dredged about 220,000 cubic yards of material, all of which was disposed of at an in-water location near Bishop Bar (north shore), located at Mile 118 on the lower Snake River in Washington. It was the first time the channel had been dredged since 2015. The dredging takes the channel down to its authorized depth of 14 feet.

The contractor, HME Construction Inc., executed the $5.8 million contract for the dredging beginning January 4 and finished up Feb. 25, well before the closing deadline of March 1. The dates were chosen to minimize any impacts on migrating steelhead salmon, which are not active at this time of year.

According to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, in 2020 4.2 million tons of cargo moved on the Snake River, the barges taking the place of 42,160 rail cars or 162,153 semi trucks.

The Snake-Columbia system is a major wheat export window. In most years, nearly 10 percent of all U.S. wheat exports move through the locks on the Snake River. The Snake River also supports a thriving recreation and tourism industry. More than 25,000 passengers cruised the Snake in 2018, contributing more than $15 million to communities on the river system.


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