VICKSBURG — The Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has ended its annual mat sinking season two and a half months earlier than planned. The Mat Sinking Unit (MSU) stopped operations Jan. 2 due to high water and strong currents.
At approximately 10 a.m. on Jan. 2, the final decision was made to halt work.
The MSU, which employs over 300 fulltime, seasonal, and temporary workers, had been working the Mississippi River banks in the New Orleans area.
“The team has done a great job out here on the river for the past four months. Unfortunately, we can only work when the river allows us,” said Andy Metts, chief of the revetment section.
The crew will have completed work at more than two thirds of the planned sites. The unit has sunk nearly 436 acres of concrete mat.
Currently, the MSU is making tow to return home. They expect to be back in the Vicksburg harbor on either Sunday night or Monday morning.
“I’ve been involved in river work for over 30 years now, and I’m still waiting for that ‘normal’ year. “Each year brings its own set of challenges, and this year is no different,” Metts said.
The 11 sites not done this year will be completed during the next mat sinking season, which is expected to begin as early as July.
The MSU is the only one of its kind in the world and performs one of the most important jobs in the Corps’ river stabilization program. The scope of work encompasses the three Corps districts of Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans and executes between $20 million to $60 million of work annually. The unit employs approximately 65 full-time employees and 255 seasonal and temporary employees who reside in several states.