Michigan cleans up two commercial harbors to boost local economy
Ed. M. DeHart
St Joseph River, Michigan
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In recent decades, the state of Michigan has faced a perpetual need to restructure and revitalize its urban areas that were economically crippled by the decline and exodus of its once-booming mid-century manufacturing industries. In an exciting development, Southwestern Michigan is boasting two projects that will provide notable economic stimulation. Just as Holland Energy Park (a natural gas power generation plant) nears completion, a dredging initiative has begun in the St. Joseph Outer Harbor and Holland Harbor. Rumors in November suggested that the harbors held low priority since closing the James DeYoung coal plant, but the upcoming import boost pushed for a quick resolution.
On May 26th King Company of Holland, Michigan was chosen from 10 companies by Detroit District of the Army Corps of Engineers for the $374,000 dredging contract. Combined, 64,000 cubic yards will be picked up and redistributed south of the south breakwater between the ordinary high water mark and the 4-foot contour that is closest to land relative to the site.
Located on the east shore of Lake Michigan, St. Joseph Harbor runs from 60 miles east of Chicago to the county of Berrien, Michigan. Holland Harbor sits 50 miles up the coast from St. Joseph.
The dredging will pay major dividends for the 91 harbors and 4 connecting channels the district maintains. With the channels connecting Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie,. the entire Great Lakes region will feel the impact as this clean up smooths out future transport. Lt. Col. Dennis Sugrue, District Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps at the Detroit District, said, “We are pleased to award this dredging contract so that navigational channels in St. Joseph Harbor and Holland Harbor can be kept open for important cargo.
This project will reward both the harbors and their occupants with clearer sailing and fewer threats of running aground. Congressman Fred Upton believes deeper drafts will provide dramatic gains for both the commercial and recreational aspects of Michigan’s economy. Upton pointed out that “having the Corps maintain this as a commercial port not only helps us as consumers, but it also helps the recreation industry[…]we’re the second largest state in terms of boating registrations, and this is a mighty important place.” Fewer opportunities for boats to run aground will help business transport their cargo and boat lovers enjoy beautiful Lake Michigan.
Both harbors are expected to be completed by the end of July.