Industrial Canal

Industrial Canal

The Industrial Canal is a 5.5 mile (9 km) waterway in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The waterway's proper name, as used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and on NOAA nautical charts, is Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC). The more common "Industrial Canal" name is used locally, both by commercial mariners and by landside residents. [cite web
title=About IHNC
work=Industrial Canal Lock Replacement Project

The canal connects the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. Approximately half of the waterway's course, from Industrial Lock to a point north of the Florida Avenue Bridge, is confluent with both the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO).

The canal passes through the 9th Ward of the city. Along the riverfront, the canal constitutes the boundary of the ward's Bywater neighborhood on the upriver side of the canal and the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood on the downriver side. Near the lake, it is generally considered to be the western boundary of Eastern New Orleans.

Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, proposals have been made to close the northern end of the canal by building a dam at the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain, as part of an effort to block storm surge. [cite journal | author=Angelle Bergeron | title=Ideas Floated for Hardening New Orleans Storm Defenses | journal=Engineering News-Record | issue=30 Jan 2006 | url=] A subcommittee of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission has endorsed such a move. [cite paper | author=Koerner, J., B. Thompson, B. Marchal, R. Lehmann | title=Report of Levees and Flood Protection Sub-Committee, Bring New Orleans Back Infrastructure Committee | date=2006 | url=]


The dream of a shipping canal connecting the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain goes back to Spanish colonial times, the late 18th century. The colonial era Carondelet Canal connected the back side of the French Quarter with the lake via Bayou St. John, but it was not extended to the river because of the differing levels of the river and the lake. Engineers confirmed that canal locks would be necessary.

A canal proposed in the early 19th century was never built, but the right-of-way for the proposed waterway gave its name to the city's Canal Street.

In July of 1914 the Louisiana State Government authorized the City of New Orleans to build a deep-water shipping canal between the river and lake. Land was expropriated along the downriver portion of the city. Toward the lake this was mostly little-developed swamp. Along the riverfront, though, buildings demolished to make room for the canal included homes and a convent already a century old at the time.

Dredging of the canal began on 6 June, 1918. The length from the lake to the lock near the river was constructed with a 30 foot (9 m) depth, with a width of 300 feet (90 m) at the top of the canal and at least 150 feet (45 m) at the bottom. The original lock system had 5 gates, a width of 74 feet (23 m), and a depth of 50 feet (15 m), with a capability to function to up to 20 feet (6 m) in difference of levels between the river and lake. The opening dedication ceremony was presided over by Louisiana Governor John M. Parker on 5 May, 1923. The cost was 19 million United States dollars.

The original length of the canal was 5.3 miles (8.5 km) with a 1,600 foot (500 m) right-of way. The longer current length of 5.5 miles (8.9 km) is due to extension of the lakeshore by dredging in the mid-20th century.

After the opening of the canal, slips and docks were added along its length, allowing it to function as a harbor in addition to a transit canal. A connection to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) was added about mid-way in the canal in the 1930s. During World War II, the Intracoastal was rerouted through the Industrial Canal, and the federal government leased the Industrial Lock and the southern 2.1-mile (3.4-km) section of the canal and took over its operation and maintenance.cite web
title=Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Evaluation Report, March 1997
work=Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District

In the 1960s the Industrial Canal junction width was expanded, becoming an intersection with the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

A levee breach in the canal resulted in catastrophic flooding of the Lower 9th Ward during Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

In 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, storm surge funneled by the GIWW and MRGO confluence created multiple breaches in the Canal, resulting in even more extensive catastrophic flooding. On the upper side, the canal flooded out from a point back from Florida Avenue. On the lower side, there were two large breaches between Florida Avenue and Claiborne Avenue. A large barge, the ING 4727, was deposited in the Lower 9th Ward from the breach closer to the river. The suggestion that the barge caused one or more breaches is under investigation. The canal lock was back functioning two days after Katrina hit, at first mostly for barges bringing in fill to repair the breaches. A month later Hurricane Rita reflooded recently drained areas along the canal by topping emergency fill at the breach sites.

Bridges over the canal

There are eight bridges over the Industrial Canal. Each provides sufficient vertical clearance for ship traffic. The bridges, beginning at the north end of the canal, are:

; Seabrook Bridge : Medium-rise twin bascule, four-lane roadway bridge. The roadway is Lakeshore Drive, connecting to Leon C. Simon Drive on the upper side of the bridge, Hayne Boulevard on the lower side. The bridge is officially named Senator Ted Hickey Bridge. Operated by the Orleans Levee District. Normally stays in the down position for vehicular traffic, but provides sufficient clearance for most marine traffic. [cite web | title=Bridges | work=The Port of New Orleans | url= | accessdate=2006-03-05] ; Seabrook Railroad Bridge : Bascule railroad bridge carrying two railroad tracks. Owned and operated by Port of New Orleans. Normally stays in the up position. Amtrak's Crescent uses this bridge. Automobile traffic used this bridge prior to the construction of the bridge above. The former automobile lanes, with their deteriorated wooden decks, still straddle the railroad span.; Danziger Bridge : Lift bridge with seven vehicular lanes (US Highway 90 / Chef Menteur Highway). When this bridge was completed in 1988, replacing a previous bridge of the same name, it was the widest lift bridge in the world. Most marine traffic is accommodated in the down position. [cite journal | author=Alfred R. Mangus | title=A Fresh Look at Orthotropic Technology | journal=Public Roads | year=2005 | volume=68 | issue=5 | url= ] ; I-10 High Rise Bridge : High-rise six-lane freeway, referred to locally as "the I-10 high-rise" or just "the high-rise."; Almonaster Avenue Bridge : Bascule bridge with two railroad tracks and one vehicular lane in each direction, straddling the railroad bridge. Owned and operated by Port of New Orleans. Since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the roadways leading up to it, the bridge now normally stays in the up position.; Florida Avenue Bridge : Lift bridge with one railroad track and two vehicular lanes. Owned and operated by Port of New Orleans. A parallel four-lane high-rise vehicular bridge is planned. [cite web | title=Florida Avenue Bridge | work=Louisiana TIMED Program | url= | accessdate=2006-03-05] ; Claiborne Avenue Bridge : Lift bridge, officially named Judge William Seeber Bridge, with four vehicular lanes (North Claiborne Avenue). Accommodates most marine traffic in the down position.; St. Claude Avenue Bridge : Bascule bridge with four vehicular lanes. This was originally a combination railroad/automobile bridge, with the two pairs of railroad tracks in the center of the lift span and automobile lanes straddling it. However, the railroad is long gone, and one lane in each direction passes through the truss of the bridge and one lane passes alongside the truss. Bridge is integrated into the Industrial Lock structure, on the river side of the lock chamber. Raises when marine traffic enters or exits the lock.

ee also

* Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans
* Mississippi River Gulf Outlet
* Gulf Intracoastal Waterway


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