The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has taken the first steps to deepen a 256-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from 45 feet to 50 feet, a move that will allow the Port of New Orleans to receive ships larger than the 10,000 TEU limit in place now. The Corps and the state of Louisiana signed an agreement for the $250 million project on Friday. Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and the Corps plan to issue contracts for the dredging work in the fall. The port hopes that the first phase of the project will be completed by early 2022, with a second phase by 2024. The federal government will provide 75 percent of the funding, with the state picking up the remainder.