VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) -- Officials from Washington and Oregon are celebrating the end of the $178 million project to deepen the Columbia River shipping channel.

Port officials, business and union leaders and politicians from both states marked the completion of the dredging project Thursday in Vancouver. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deepened the channel from 40 feet to 43 feet from Astoria to Portland.

For 20 years, ports and businesses that use the river pushed hard for the deepening to allow larger ships, saying it was critical to the region's economy. Environmentalists fought it as potentially harmful to salmon and estuaries. Environmental monitoring of the channel is to continue for three years.

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Information from The Oregonian, The Columbian and The Daily News.

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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