SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. - The commercial shipping industry could be up and running again by the end of the week. Dredging contractors are on hand in the St. Joseph Harbor and aiming to do the work late Friday or early Saturday.
The channel has been shut down to commercial boats since early December. Emergency money was granted to the Army Corps of Engineers. Two weeks ago, the Army Corps said dredging should have been completed by January 3rd.
If the dredging gets completed this week, some of the ships still waiting to deliver will be able to get into port.
Thursday, the St. Joseph Harbor Authority got updated on the situation and discussed dredging in the spring of 2012.
As it stands, there is no federal money to dredge the St. Joseph Harbor again this year. If the channel becomes too shallow again the commercial docks could close.
“If the money is not in place for next year, it could potentially, worst case scenario, be the end of commercial shipping in the St. Joseph Harbor,” said John Gruchot with Berrien County Community Development.
According to Berrien County estimates, if the harbor were closed the cost to transport raw materials by truck would be more than double.
Both Berrien County and Congressman Fred Upton’s office said they’ll be trying to convince the Army Corps to pay for dredging in the spring.