October 9, 2008

Reps. Look at Dredging Plan


PETERSBURG -- It's been nearly 60 years since the last full dredging of the Appomattox River. But there is hope that the project will be fully funded in the near future.

City Manager B. David Canada gave a presentation on the dredging project to local government leaders from the Tri-Cities and to Congressmen J. Randy Forbes, R-4th District, and John Boozman, R- Ark. Boozman is a ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

Mayor Annie M. Mickens said she was grateful the city could present the plan to the congressional leaders.

"This is important not just to us, but the whole region," Mickens said. She added that she hoped funding would be approved for the project which has earned the nickname of "the 100-year project" due to the numerous delays in completing the project.

The Appomattox River navigation channel was first authorized in 1871 with a channel depth of 10 feet, 60 to 80 feet wide from the head of navigation in Petersburg, to the river's confluence with the James River almost 10 miles away.

Canada said that the last time there was a full dredge of the river was in 1949 but that in 1971 and 1993 the channel was partially dredged.

"The city in 1984 requested the Corps of engineers to restore the channel to its authorized dimensions," Canada said.

In 1993 starting from the eastern end of the river, the channel was dredged. However, Canada said that process was stopped about 5,000 feet from the head of navigation when a minor amount of contaminated material was excavated from the channel. At that point, dredging was suspended.

Canada said that starting last year, the city began exploring the option of using land farming of the dredge materials.

Mark Mansfield, chief of the planning division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, said it is the Corps' responsibility to keep the channel open. He added that with continued funding and support from Congress, that will happen.

"The presentation was excellent," Boozman said. "That the project has support from the community, the corps and the region is very beneficial."

Boozman added that the support from the surrounding localities and the corps is something that he would weigh heavily when considering the project in future sessions of Congress. Additionally, Boozman added that the navigation channel's history is something he would strongly consider.

"This has been authorized before, it's just been neglected," Boozman said. "We need to step up and support it."

- F.M. Wiggins may be reached at 732-3456, ext. 254 or [email protected]

Originally published by STAFF WRITER.

(c) 2008 Progress-Index, The Petersburg, Va.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.