Two decades in the works, the dredge Paula Lee scooped one last bit of river bottom on Wednesday near Longview.
With that, subcontractor Dutra Dredging finished the job of creating a 43-foot-deep shipping channel over 103 miles between Vancouver and the mouth of the Columbia River. An extra 3 feet of depth enables ships to load more fully.
The Army Corps of Engineers began the $190 million dredging project in 2005, following a protracted lobbying effort by area shipping interests. A bevy of Oregon and Washington elected officials gathered last month at the Port of Vancouver to celebrate the project’s pending completion.
The last section of deepening occurred between river miles 66 and 67 near Longview.