Senate bill would increase funding for SWLA dredging - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Senate bill would increase funding for SWLA dredging

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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

So much of our economy depends on ships getting up the Calcasieu Ship Channel, but keeping that waterway open to the big ships costs money. Now, the U.S. Senate has legislation that will create more dredging dollars.

"Three reasons: Jobs, jobs, jobs."

Channing Hayden, the Port of Lake Charles director of navigation and security, said jobs are one of the main benefits of the Calcasieu Ship Channel. 

"Industries along the channel generate about 31,000 direct and indirect jobs as a result of it being here," said Hayden. 

That's why he said dredging it and maintaining the guidelines necessary to have vessels use the channel is so important. 

"Historically, the Port of Lake Charles has gotten only about 50 percent of what it needs to dredge and maintain the channel properly," Hayden said.

The water resources and development act would change that. The act would do two main things that would directly benefit the Port of Lake Charles and SWLA.  

"Increase funding for dredging, they'll do it nationwide, but that should provide benefits for the Port of Lake Charles," Hayden said. "The other thing that it does is that it tries to speed up the corps procedures when they do a study."

Two things he says, if kept through the House and signed by the President, would greatly increase the Port of Lake Charles' ability to plan more projects. 

Hayden said while the Senate's passing of the bill is a victory, because it has to go through many more eyes, ears and pens in the House of Representatives, things are subject to change. He's hopeful the House, which showed great support for Congressman Charles Boustany's similar RAMP act, will vote in favor of increased funds for dredging. 

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