Posted on July 15, 2021
The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commission welcomed a new member Monday.
Meanwhile, some mariners will be receiving some unwelcome news: fines for driving vessels into structures at the Bayou Chene Flood Control project.
The new board member is Matthew Tycer of Morgan City. Tycer was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards from a list of three candidates submitted by the St. Mary Parish Council.
Tycer succeeds Lee Dragna, who resigned from the Port of Morgan City’s board after his election as mayor of Morgan City last fall.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the Coast Guard reported that incidents involving vessel strikes at the Bayou Chene construction site continue. Seven “allisions” — incidents in which a moving vessel strikes a stationary object — have been recorded in recent weeks despite Coast Guard alerts, restricted transit hours and other measures.
The portion of the bayou near the site can present a challenge. Work on nearby locks has increased the traffic moving through the Bayou Chene site. And vessel traffic can find it difficult to maneuver through the site after coming out of a bend in the bayou just before the construction area.
Fines totaling $115,000 have been levied.
The Bayou Chene structure, an $80 million project, is designed to allow a barge to be moved into a flood gate when the Atchafalaya River runs high, preventing back-flooding along the bayou.
Another trouble spot, the area near Stouts Pass north of Berwick, has gotten some Coast Guard attention. Six buoys have been placed to mark the channel.
“They’ll probably be accurate for about five days,” joked Coast Guard Lt. Hayley Gipson, who got a laugh from the board members.
Rapid accumulation of sand and sediment in the pass has been a problem, leading to vessel groundings.
Also Monday, port Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade told the board that the Coast Guard dredge Jadwin is heading back to the area for up to 150 days of work on local waterways.
The enormous dredge, big enough to house a crew of 50, will work north of the Berwick-Morgan City bridges. The dredge, based in Vicksburg, Mississippi, is too big to fit beneath them.
A Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. dredge, the Alaska, is also due to begin work soon in the channel that leads from the port to the Gulf.
The dredge will begin work near Eugene Island and make its way north, Wade said.
Between Eugene Island and the Gulf, the Brice Civil Constructors barge continues to remove sticky “fluff” mud from the channel.
The bar channel from Eugene Island to the sea buoy and the channel between Eugene Island and Crewboat Cut are keys to creating a reliable route that would allow large import-export vessels to use the Port of Morgan City for loading and unloading.
A buildup of sediment since 2015 has prevented the largest vessels from using Morgan City’s port.
Gipson also told the board that vessel transits through the area were up 12% in June from the same month in 2020.