Progress is being made on the Tenn-Tom Waterway in Aberdeen


ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI) – Progress is being made with the sandbar that’s sitting in the Tenn-Tom Waterway at the Aberdeen Lock and Dam.

Tenn-Tom Waterway Development Authority Administrator Mitch Mays got an update from the Corps of Engineers earlier this week.

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They’re hoping the waterway will completely be back open within the next week, but nothing is set in stone.

“This is unprecedented. This has never happened on the Tenn-Tom Waterway before. The situation with the continuous rains and storms has been an issue that we have never seen before, so I’ve described this as a generational type event,” said Mays.

Heavy rains and severe storms dumped tons of sediment into the waterway back in late February, early March, bringing river traffic and business to a standstill.

“It’s been of great concern. It’s caused business and industry a lot of extra money in shipping, using other modes that they had not been using and were not set up for, but we’re hoping this reaches a resolution very soon.”

Although the dredge has been operating 24/7 for over two months, the work is still not over.

“It’s 14 feet deep and the authorized depth of the waterway is 9 feet, so basically the high water left five feet of excess shoaling, sediment, sand and debris above what would be normal.”

Crews are working two to 300 feet from the Lock, which is where Tenn-Tom Waterway Development Authority Administrator Mitch Mays, said they want them to be.

However, he said they had hoped things would be flowing freely by now.

“As the dredge clears out part of it, we have heavy rain or a storm and then of course, it washes more sediment into the areas that they’ve already dredged, so that’s adding to the time that it takes to get the waterway back open.”

Although the waterway isn’t completely back open until the work is done here, there is some good news downstream.

“The waterway was open as far north as Columbus, so from Mobile to Columbus, has been business as usual. There’s been a couple of little places where they have had to go in and clean up around the Columbus port, but those have been addressed and fixed and then of course, north of Aberdeen, they’ve been able to ship up and down the waterway, as well.”

Mays said he’s been told crews had estimated that that particular sandbar had over 600,000 cubic feet of sediment in it.