Dredging of South Jersey inlet won’t begin until July

     NOAA map.

    NOAA map.

    The dredging of a key South Jersey Inlet won’t begin until early July due to federal fish migration regulations, a state official said. 

    The state Coastal Engineering Department said earlier this month that dredging of Little Egg Inlet is needed because parts of the channel have sand buildup, making navigation challenging and dangerous.

    “This situation has become critical so we are moving forward, using state money, to dredge the channel and make it safe again for everyone who needs this vital access for fishing and recreation,” New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. 

    The channel is a major artery between Long Beach Island and Brigantine.

    Days before the state announcement, the U.S. Coast Guard said its crews were set to temporarily remove buoys marking the channel due to concerns that buildup of sand in the channel has gotten too severe for safe passage of boats.

    The Coast Guard warned boaters that if they use the inlet they would be doing so at their own risk.

    Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week that the project will go out to bid in April, adding that work will progress through the summer after a likely July 1 start. 

    The state plans to remove around 1 million to 1.5 million cubic yards of sand to create a deeper channel. This new channel will be 25 feet below mean sea level.

    Officials say some parts of the current channel are only 6 feet below mean sea level. Excess sand will be used to replenish nearby beaches.

    Authorities say the dredging project will have little to no impact on the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and fish migration.

    Since Superstorm Sandy struck in Oct. 2012, the state has restored 12 channels and begun dredging work on an additional 15.

    Some 200 channels have experienced shoaling to varying degrees since the storm.

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