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District awards $15.6 million dredging contract for Houston navigation channels

GALVESTON, Texas (Aug. 22, 2016) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District awarded a contract to Weeks Marine Inc., in the amount of $15,692,500 for the maintenance dredging of the Houston Ship Channel, Redfish Reef to Morgan’s Point.

Contractors will remove approximately 2.3 million cubic yards of shoal material from the channels using a hydraulic pipeline dredge to ensure waterways remain open for navigation.

“Dredging allows the Corps to fulfill its mission of providing safe and navigable waterways for vessels importing and exporting goods to and from the Port of Houston and industries along the channel,” said Tricia Campbell, an operations manager with the USACE Galveston District. “The Port of Houston ranks first in the nation in foreign waterborne tonnage; first in U.S. imports and second in the nation with respect to total tonnage.”

Campbell stated the contractor will begin dredge work in areas where high shoaling has occurred and place material from the project in the Mid-Bay Dredged Material Placement Area. The project is one hundred percent federally funded with work scheduled to begin in September 2016.

USACE Galveston District was established in 1880 as the first engineer district in Texas to oversee river and harbor improvements. The district is directly responsible for maintaining more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 270 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft as well as the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates.

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USACE Galveston District’s Employee Spotlight on Sheridan Willey

GALVESTON, Texas (Aug. 1, 2016) – Growing up in a large family, Sheridan Willey always knew the importance teamwork played when it came to achieving goals. It was those family values that led her to seek a workplace that would embrace her abilities to collaborate and partner to find amenable solutions; a fitting environment she found at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Willey began her federal career in Los Angeles, California, in 1985 when she was introduced to the USACE through her boyfriend (now husband), who was working as an engineering intern.

“I was working for a different company at the time when I visited him at work,” said Willey. “I was drawn to the Corps’ mission of being environmental stewards. My first job at the Corps entailed working on repairs to almost every coastal structure along the California coast, from San Diego to Humboldt Bay, after damages from an extreme El Nino season.”

With an extensive portfolio of coastal experience under her belt, Willey and her family moved to Galveston in 1987, where she accepted a position as a planning lead in the USACE Galveston District’s Coastal Planning Office.

More than a decade later, Willey is overseeing a new study that includes partnering with the Texas General Land Office to examine ways to protect the Texas coast from natural and manmade disasters.

“The Coastal Texas study is one of the largest and most complex studies in the nation that evaluates various alternatives to reduce risks associated with hurricanes and storm surge from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande,” said Willey. “The study, which aims to objectively identify strengths and weaknesses of proposed plans as well as opportunities and threats to the environment and economy, will employ a benefit-to-cost ratio approach to determine if a plan is worth pursuing.”

Willey explained that the success of the study hinges on effective collaboration with partners at the state and local levels and will rely on input from surrounding communities.

“Working with our partners, we will identify a variety of critical considerations including potential shoreline degradation, storm damage risk reduction, environmental restoration and protection as well as related

improvements along the Texas Gulf Coast to ensure that preservation of the Texas coastal region is balanced with the growth and needs of industries that fuel commerce and power the nation,” said Willey.

Although Willey describes this project as fast-paced with many challenges, she enjoys the process of working with a team to identify solutions that will address ongoing threats to the Texas coast so that future generations can continue to benefit from this national resource.

“There are always new problems to be solved and planning studies are the way for the Corps to be able to help address these problems,” said Willey. “It really takes all of us working together to overcome the challenges to accomplish the mission.”

Willey earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University and a Professional Engineering License in civil engineering.