The Army Corps of Engineers expects to lift navigational restrictions on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal this week after emergency dredging removed shoaling that emerged in November.
At 14 miles long and 450 feet wide, the canal is a major artery for the port of Baltimore, carrying more than 40 percent of the port's shipping traffic: roll-on, roll-off cargo, cars, fuel and coal...
The canal, built in the 1820s and upgraded several times, connects the bay to the Delaware River. The approaches, which tie into the bay's main shipping channels, need routine maintenance to clear sediment that settles and creates shoals. That task falls to the Army Corps' Philadelphia office, which operates the canal.It wouldn't make me happy as a ships captain to have to rely on high tide to make the passage safe to travel through. The wind could change the tide by almost that much. It would make planning a passage dodgy at best.
Late last fall, the Corps' Philadelphia engineers issued a safety warning to mariners that the depth of the bayside approach, normally 35 feet, had shrunk to 31 feet. The warning included a suggestion that vessel operators time their arrival at Chesapeake City in Cecil County to take advantage of high tide in the areas with shoals.
"They could get through on high tide, but it's a tight squeeze," said Frank Hamons, deputy director of the Maryland Port Administration.
Over the last two months, that's what they did, dredging nearly 750,000 cubic yards of muck, a mound as big as a stack of 562.5 billion $1 bills or enough to fill 64,000 railroad cars.So what do you do with that much dirt?
For the C&D project, the Corps' Philadelphia office paid $7.1 million and the Baltimore office paid $1.5 million to dredge and haul the material 45 miles to Poplar Island, a site owned by the Maryland Port Administration that is used by Baltimore Harbor and shipping channel dredgers.I need a couple of yards to fill some terraces I want to build. Do you think they deliver?