NEW ORLEANS (AP) - U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond want the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Mississippi River deep enough so it can handle the huge cargo ships expected to use the Panama Canal once its expansion is completed next year.
The Louisiana Democrats submitted bills Thursday to authorize dredging the river to a minimum depth of 50 feet as far upriver as Baton Rouge.
The bills also would create a project to rebuild wetlands with dredged sediment, starting with a pump-out site at Southwest Pass.
Dredging there would allow the ships - called post-Panamax vessels - to sail 175 miles upriver.
Many East Coast cities already are planning, building or deepening ports.
They include New York-New Jersey, Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami.