LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that dredging can start next week on the lower Snake River to aid barge traffic to and from Lewiston.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle on Monday rejected a request by environmental groups and the Nez Perce Tribe to halt the dredging until their lawsuit can be heard. The ruling means the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can move ahead with a $6.7 million dredging project in the river leading to the farthest inland seaport on the West Coast.

The lawsuit was filed in November by Earthjustice on behalf of environmental groups. The Army Corps contends that dredging behind Lower Granite Dam is needed to maintain the corridor for barges between Pasco, Washington, and Lewiston.