Public Input Sought on Bay Channel Dredge Project Off LBI

Comment Period Ends Jan. 8

Long Beach Island — The U.S. Army Corps is seeking public comment and recommendations for a 10-year maintenance request by the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Office of Maritime Resources to dredge nine channels in the bay waters off Long Beach Island. Public comments are due by Jan. 8, 2020.

Dredging is proposed for the Beach Haven State Channel Complex: Southwick Channel, Bay Harbor Channel, Eastern Channel, Shelter Harbor Channel, Beach Haven Condos Channel, Morrison’s Channel, Liberty Thorofare Channel, Buoy 77 Channel and Penna’s Channel, according to the public notice posted to the Army Corps’ Philadelphia District and Marine Design Center website Dec. 9.

“This is a required public notice as part of the process to get permits for future dredging of the channels,” Steve Schapiro, deputy director of communications for the state DOT, said Dec, 13. “Details on the project and when dredging may begin will be determined sometime after the permit is issued, design plans are finalized and funding is secured.”

The proposed project is for the restoration and maintenance of safe navigational depths for vessels between Long Beach Island and the bay, the public notice reads in part. Approximately 26,747 yards of sand and silt is expected to be dredged and transported, via a floating and submerged pipeline, to the Parker Island Confined Disposal Facility, a 4.3-acre site located in the bay west of Beach Haven, according to the public notice.

“The pipeline would be marked in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations,” the public notice reads in part. “Return water from the Parker Island CDF is proposed.”

Each maintenance dredge project is expected to last approximately 12 weeks, including mobilizing/demobilizing, dredging and CDF activities, the public notice states. Two or three dredging projects are anticipated to be performed over the next 10 years.

“The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the activity’s probable impact including its cumulative impacts on the public interest. The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources,” according to the Dec. 9 public notice. “The benefits which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the work must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.”

Comments on the proposed work should be submitted in writing within 30 days to District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District, Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107-3390. Any person may request, in writing to the district engineer within the comment period, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests for a public hearing must include the particular reasons for a hearing.

In November, the Army Corps announced it awarded a more than yearlong contract to the Harvey Cedars-based Barnegat Bay Dredging Co. to deepen certain bay areas from Cape May north toward LBI, helping the Coast Guard to maintain aids to navigation in one of the most traversed areas of the ICW. The company began dredge work in the Cape May Ferry area in early November.

“After that, the sequence and locations for dredging are still being determined,” Steve Rochette, public affairs officer of the Corps, Philadelphia District, said at the time, noting the sequence may not go exactly south to north. “We’re coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard on some of the areas with shoals that hinder the navigation of their equipment.”

The problem areas exist mostly south of the LBI region, with the most significant trouble spot in the ICW around Avalon in Cape May County where a navigational channel, due to shoaling, basically doesn’t exist. The depth of the water in that area is about 1 to 3 feet. A majority of the ICW is maintained at 6 feet of water.

Beginning in July, the Aids to Navigation unit, based in Cape May, and the East Coast dive unit removed 20 broken channel markers spanning the waters from Toms River to Cape May. Many in the local boating community attribute the broken markers to two separate boating accidents on the ICW off LBI Memorial Day weekend.

— Gina G. Scala

Reposted from The Sandpaper, Dec. 18, 2019