The final public hearing on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' most-recent proposal to deepen the Columbia River shipping channel is Tuesday night.

The hearing will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. in Astoria at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. An hour-long open house, beginning at 5 p.m., will give the public an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the proposed project before giving formal testimony.

Tuesday's hearing will be the last opportunity for formal testimony on the Corps' draft Supplemental Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the channel deepening project. Written comments will be accepted until Sept. 15.

The Corps' issued its draft report this summer. It updates costs and benefits of deepening the existing 40-foot shipping channel to 43 feet. The project would accommodate deeper-draft vessels traveling the Columbia River between the Pacific Ocean and Portland. The updated proposal includes ecosystem restoration features that would create habitat beneficial to threatened salmon species.

Critics of the project say the benefits of channel deepening will be realized by foreign shipping companies. Also, they say the ecosystem restoration features are little more than dredged material dump sites dressed up to look good for the environment.

Written comments should be submitted to: Commander, USACE-Portland, Attn: CENWP-PM-F (CRCIP), P.O. Box 2946, Portland, OR 97208-2946.

Comments and testimony received during the comment period will be considered by the Corps as it finalizes its supplemental report later this fall.

The report can be viewed on-line at