Taming the Red River

by Rita Robison, Contributing Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47 St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 6, Pg. 64-66

Document Type: Feature article


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed its last great waterway project, the Red River Waterway in Louisiana, Dec. 31, 1994. The project took more than a quarter of a century and $1.8 billion after it was authorized by Congress in 1968. Reaching from the Mississippi River to Shreveport, La., the Red is now a 200 ft wide, 9 ft deep channel rather than a meandering river noted for capricious channel changes. The last two major contracts, for Locks and Dams No. 4 and 5., were carried out under the Corp's first full scale attempt at partnering and total quality management. According to Corps managers, agency-contractor cooperation led to no claims on either contract, without cost increases. There are five sets of locks and dams on the river, which is now 50 miles shorter because meanders have been redirected into the new alignment. Riprap placed along banks, various types of revetments and dikes stabilize the channel. Recreational facilities are being provided in cooperation with the Red River Waterway Commission, which is also planning to extend the shipping channel into Arkansas if feasible.

Subject Headings: Rivers and streams | Meandering rivers and streams | Contracts | Locks (dam) | Quality control | Team building | River bank stabilization | Federal government | Louisiana | United States | Mississippi River

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