A project to dredge a portion of the Intracoastal Waterway near Ocean City is expected to begin this week, creating yet another major achievement through a partnership between the city and state and federal agencies to rid the channels of sediment.
Mayor Jay Gillian said in an interview Thursday that the dredging projects throughout the city’s waterways, including the latest project involving the Intracoastal Waterway, “has to be done.”
The goal is to maintain a resort where homeowners’ property values stay up and boaters and visitors can enjoy the jewel of the community – the back bays and the waterways, the mayor and other city officials have emphasized.
“It has to be done,” Gillian said pointedly. “I’m not a mayor who will sit back. We have to do things.”
Gillian said the multi-agency effort working with state officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping to make such a vital project possible to improve the back bays and waterways in the city.
Specifically, the project to dredge the Intracoastal Waterway is focused on shallow channels between the 34th Street and Ninth Street bridges.
“We are all working together for one thing,” Gillian said of the joint effort. “It is important to me that the state, city and federal government have come together to do this.”
City Council Vice President Tony Wilson, a major advocate for dredging, said, “I am 100 percent behind making sure our back bays are available to everyone. We need to make sure everyone has complete access to one of the gems that Ocean City has to offer.”
Steve Rochette, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District office, said that in the fall of 2019, the Corps awarded a maintenance dredging contract to Barnegat Bay Dredging Company of Harvey Cedars, New Jersey.
Rochette outlined the timeframe of the Intracoastal Waterway dredging project.
“The time period for the contract is more than a year and involves dredging critical shoals from different sections along the 117-mile New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway and adjacent waterways,” Rochette said in an email.
He added, “We’ve been coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard to focus on the most critical areas with shoals that hinder the navigation of their channel marking equipment.”
He said work began in December in the Cape May Ferry area.
“The Dredge Fullerton will be mobilizing to dredge a shoaled portion of the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway near Ocean City between markers 276 and 282 on or about Jan. 25. Work will take approximately two months,” Rochette explained.
The project is the latest step for Ocean City in its monumental plan to both dredge the sediment-choked waterways along the back bays and pumps in fresh sand to replenish beaches left eroded by recent coastal storms.
In a statement Friday, Gillian outlined progress with beach replenishment and dredging throughout the coastal community.
“Beaches between 59th Street and 45th Street gained 515,000 cubic yards of sand, and a vulnerable stretch of the dune near 59th Street was rebuilt. Contractors will return later this winter to restore dune crossovers, place sand fence and plant dune grass. The Corps will be back in the spring to rebuild beaches at the north end,” he said.
He added that a contractor is expected to complete the city’s 2019-2020 back bay dredging project by the end of February.
“The Army Corps is finishing repairs to the disposal facility on the marshes near Roosevelt Boulevard and will begin dredging the Intracoastal Waterway within the next few weeks,” Gillian said.
He also noted that the city “learned this week that the Army Corps approved a permit application to experiment with a ‘sediment trap’ to prevent the frequent filling in of Snug Harbor.”
He continued, “This application is the first of its kind in New Jersey and N.J. Department of Environmental Protection approval is anticipated within the next two weeks.”
Carol Beske, founder of ACT Engineers, the city’s dredging and flooding consultant, said Thursday that the dredging work done throughout Ocean City has been successful.
She praised the “great cooperation between the city and the Army Corps of Engineers.”
“We are really excited it is moving forward,” Beske said.
Recently, she called Ocean City the “poster city of the state” for what is considered innovative dredging and flood-control projects.
Following is a link to the city’s presentations on flood and dredging projects: www.ocnj.us/capital-projects-bay/.