The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District has contracted heavy civil marine contractor Orion Marine to dredge two million cubic yards of shoaled material in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel in Nueces County, Texas.

The dredging project is being undertaken to provide smooth transit to deep-draft vessels.

The Port of Corpus Christi is strategically located to connect the region to the international maritime cargo business, and the dredging is expected to ease traffic congestions.

Under the $8m deal, Orion will dredge between the inner basin (lower bay) and Beacon 82 (upper bay), and from La Quinta Junction to channel.

The shoaled material removed will be placed in various open water and upland placement areas adjacent to the channel.

USACE Galveston District operations manager Paula Rankin Wise said the maintenance dredging contract schedule was accelerated by approximately two months in order to remove critical shoaling within the upper bay reach of the ship channel and at the La Quinta Junction.

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"The removal of the La Quinta Junction shoaling is currently restricting the Big Foot deepwater oil platform from transiting through the La Quinta Channel to its offshore location. The accelerated schedule will ensure the mobilisation of the Big Foot platform is not delayed," Wise added.

The work is scheduled to begin in December 2013 and end by May 2014.

The USACE Galveston District currently maintains over 1,000 miles of channel, including 250 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft, and the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates.