PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) - Federal funding is being sought for dredging work at
Indiana’s major port on Lake Michigan where a cargo ship was temporarily
grounded this spring, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official said.
The Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard have changed the navigation route
into the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor since a ship carrying iron ore got
stuck on sand buildup in April but was still able to make it to dock.
Shamel Abou-El-Seoud, chief of construction and operations for the Army
Corps’ Chicago district, told the Ports of Indiana Commission on Thursday
that because of the commercial importance of the Burns Harbor port, he was
confident about getting funding consideration for a project to dredge
170,000 cubic yards of sand, The Times of Munster reported.
He said, however, that money for the dredging likely won’t be available
until at least late 2013.
Since the port began operating in the 1960s, its waterways have only been
dredged once, Abou-El-Seoud said.
“We’re hoping it’s not going to get worse because it’ll be a challenge (to
get money) in 2013,” he said.
The Burns Harbor port handles 400 barges and 100 ships a year on average,
according to the state ports agency.
Ports of Indiana spokesman Jody Peacock said the state agency has only
limited money available from a harbor maintenance tax paid by shippers.
Abou-El-Seoud said several Great Lakes harbors are in critical need of
infrastructure work such as improving the reliability of decades-old locks.
He said the Army Corps is expecting to get $86 million for Great Lakes
commercial and recreational navigation projects in the fiscal year starting
in October, but only $31 million of that is for dredging.
He said the Great Lakes’ 139 harbors have about $250 million in projects
that could be funded.