Whitfield helps secure $1.9 million for dredging

Whitfield helps secure $1.9 million for dredging
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield has delivered some very good news for Hickman, Ky., riverport officials. The riverport will be getting $1.9 million to help dredge silt from the Mississippi River harbor.
“We have been working for some months now with the Hickman-Fulton County Riverport Authority and the Corps of Engineers to identify funds that can support the necessary dredging of the Elvis Stahr Harbor, in order that the harbor can stay open and support normal business operations in the coming summer months,” he announced in a news release issued Tuesday.
“We’re very pleased to hear this news,” riverport authority official Amy Williamson told The Messenger.
This past spring, the Hickman harbor was impacted by record flooding along the Mississippi River. The harbor had to be shut down for four days in mid-October 2011 when the water levels dropped along the Mississippi River, according to Mrs. Williamson.
The harbor suffered from high water conditions along the Mississippi River and the current that forced silt down the river, clogging up the harbor to river traffic.
Due to a lack of funding, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not maintain the harbor and the silt buildup had a major impact on the river traffic in and out of the harbor, according to Mrs. Williamson.
Now, with the $1.9 million in federal funding allocated for harbor maintenance, work to dredge the harbor will be able to proceed.
“I am pleased to have received confirmation today from the Corps that some of the money made available from disaster relief legislation passed in December will be used to dredge the harbor,” Whitfield said. “The money was designated for harbor repairs that are required as a result of flooding in early 2011, which caused several harbors to receive heavy deposits of silt and threatened the continued operation of the Hickman port.”
Mrs. Williamson estimated the harbor directly affects 10 employers in the region, and 250-300 workers. Indirectly, the harbor affects hundreds of truckers and farmers throughout southwest Kentucky and northwest Tennessee.
She said the riverport authority is continuing to work with the Corps of Engineers to accurately determine the amount of goods that flow through the harbor. The Corps has established a one million ton a year minimum traffic amount to be eligible for federal funding for harbor maintenance.
Published in The Messenger 2.15.12

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