DREDGING

Berett Wilber/KUCB

 A dredging project in Iliuliuk Bay is inching forward through national legislative channels.

The Unalaska dredging project would remove a large bar to open the Port of Dutch Harbor to deeper-draft vessels—and bigger business.

In February, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) submitted the proposed project to Congress. The next steps are a little murky. First, the project needs to be authorized by Congress to be included in a bill. Then, once it's in that bill, it needs to be funded by a congressional committee.

Berett Wilber/KUCB

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presented their complete feasibility study last week for a dredging project in Iliuliuk Bay.

The proposal would remove a dense 16-foot shoal and make it easier for deeper draft vessels to maneuver through the bay's entrance.

Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin says having the channel at a deeper depth of 58 feet could be good for Unalaska.

"It opens the doors for a lot of economic diversity in the future," McLaughlin said. "But right now what we are really looking at is tankers and container ships."

Berett Wilber/KUCB

While construction is still years away, a proposal to streamline shipping traffic through the Port of Dutch Harbor has cleared several early hurdles.

In 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished a two-year feasibility study, recommended a dredging project, and won initial approval from the Unalaska City Council.

The Corps is looking to blast out and scoop away a bar that hampers navigation into Iliuliuk Bay.

Berett Wilber/KUCB

After more than 20 years of playing with the idea, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is closing in on its final recommendations for a dredging project in Iliuliuk Bay.

Removing a large bar could open the Port of Dutch Harbor to deeper-draft vessels — and bigger business. But it might also affect wildlife, currents, and erosion along Front Beach.

This week, the Corps is visiting Unalaska to present the first draft of its feasibility study. KUCB's Laura Kraegel spoke with Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin to learn more about the project.

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