Dredging and construction company Weeks Marine is in the process of restoring a portion of Louisiana's eroding coastline in a $70 million land-building project. The company is moving 3.3 million cu-yds of sediment to create 300 acres of beach and dunes along a six-mile stretch of coastline in Lafourche Parish.
Weeks Marine Project Manager Gary Johnson says the company is using a 40-in hydraulic dredge to mine sand at a location twenty miles offshore. The sand is then pumped onto 300-ft long barges capable of carrying 22,000 cu-yds of material to unloading locations on shore.
"The unloader mechanism mixes water with the sand to make it slurry again and then we just keep pumping it down the beach," says Johnson. "We're adding height and width."
Weeks Marine has been given permission to mine sand from Ship Shoal, a former barrier island known for its high-quality sediment. It is the first time a construction company has been allowed to tap the area's resources.
"It's probably the best sand you'll find in the area. It has a very low silt content and very low shale content, which allows is to compact well," says Johnson.
Weeks Marine started the project on August 1, 2013, and was working 24 hours per day, seven days per week up until January 21 when winter conditions made working in the area difficult.
They will soon resume operations and expect to finish the project by early summer. Johnson says they have roughly 30 employees working in the offshore operations and another 30 working in the unloader locations on the coast.
The project is one of a number of coastal restoration efforts in the area and is being funded by a combination of state and parish funds from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program.