GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A section of the Industrial Seaway in Gulfport remains closed to barges and large vessels after part of the north side of the bank collapsed over the weekend. Dredging of the canal may not start for several weeks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the agency is in the process of hiring a contractor to do the dredging work. In the meantime, there's talk of a temporary fix so barge traffic can move through again.
Pine trees are still sticking out of the water and blocking the middle of the Industrial Seaway in Gulfport.
"In the long run, we definitely need it moved," said John Dane.
Dane owns four businesses along the canal, including Trinity Yachts. He is also the co-owner of the Gulf Coast Shipyard Group, which relies on the waterway. The company builds 300 foot offshore service vessels and barges.
"If we were about to deliver one of these vessels, it would impact us. Fortunately, we just delivered a 300 foot barge to Florida Marine Transport last week, and it wasn't impacted. We don't have another delivery for approximately four weeks, so I don't see this impacting us anytime in the near future," said Dane.
The section of the canal, just east of the Highway 605 Bridge, closed to barge traffic Saturday after heavy rains caused trees, mud and debris on the north bank to cave in.
"We're concerned with our existing industries, and the Corps has said hopefully, they would have somebody here within the next two or three weeks or so. We would prefer to see it done faster, of course," said Bill Hessell, Harrison County Development Commission Executive Director.
On Tuesday, Hessell plans to ask the commission to consider a temporary fix.
"We were concerned, like everyone, about how long it would take to get the seaway back open again for barge traffic mainly. We would probably hire somebody to go into the seaway and drag all that debris off to one of the sides. That would open up the canal until the Corps could come in and remove it permanently," said Hessell.
Several business owners say they'll have to wait and see if the canal closure and dredging will hurt them.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. We're not looking that far down the road," said Dane.
The dredging should only take a couple of days to complete.
Hessell told WLOX the Harrison County Development Commission maintains the south bank along the seaway. He said the north side, where the bank collapsed, is privately owned.