The Memphis District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently completed another important Mississippi River project located just across the river from New Madrid, Mo.

The stone dike construction project, named Kentucky Point, was designed to assist in maintaining a safe and reliable navigation channel for commercial towboats in the Mississippi River. It also directly supports the Mississippi River Channel Improvement navigation mission.

“The need for the project was identified as a result of feedback received from our navigation industry partners identifying this area as a low water problem spot for navigation on the river as well as due to required dredging by the dredge Hurley in recent low water periods,” civil engineer and Channel Improvement Project manager Zachary Cook explained.

The contract for this work was awarded in July of 2018 but work could not start at that time due to an extended period of high water and the flood of 2019. “Work was started in early December of 2019 where Luhr Brothers Inc., the contractor, placed over 100,000 tons of stone to complete the construction of five stone dikes in a little over two weeks,” Cook said. “The design was performed by the Memphis District River Engineering Team with construction administration performed by the Construction Branch and Caruthersville Area Office. We also partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Lower Mississippi River Committee on this project.”

Cook and many other partners and river users agree the navigation channel would have continued to worsen and impact towboats traveling the area had this project not been completed. “The project benefits the commercial navigation industry by assisting in providing a safe and more reliable navigation channel for towboats in this area,” Cook added. “This in turn allows goods to move freely on the river and less expensively. The savings are then passed on to the consumer.”

Projects like this are just another example of how Corps of Engineers works to keep America’s greatest interstate navigation channel open for business.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.