WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) -- A massive dredging machine is deepening the Cape Fear River near the Wilmington Harbor as part of a project started a decade ago.

The Star-News of Wilmington reports ( ) that a 355-foot-long dredge has begun its work.

The Army Corps of Engineers awarded the $16.4 million contract to Illinois-based Great Lakes Dock and Dredge. The project will deepen the Wilmington Harbor Anchorage Basin in an effort to make turns easier and safer for boats visiting the state port.

Project manager Bob Keistler says the corps began deepening the river from its mouth to the state port in 2002, but funding dried up around 2004 and became available again this year.

The project will deepen the basin from 38 feet to 42 feet and is expected to take two months.

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