Little Egg Inlet dredging not likely to begin during summer season

     The Little Egg Inlet. (Google Maps image)

    The Little Egg Inlet. (Google Maps image)

    An early summer target set earlier this year for the dredging of a key South Jersey inlet has come and gone without any activity. 

    The state Coastal Engineering Department said in March that dredging of Little Egg Inlet is needed because parts of the channel have sand buildup, making navigation challenging and dangerous. At the time, officials set an initial target date of July 1 to commence work in the channel, a major artery between Long Beach Island and Brigantine. 

    But now nearly three aways after the target, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman says the agency continues to coordinate with the other federal agencies on Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge or fisheries issues, The Sandpaper reported. 

    Authorities have previously said the dredging project will have little to no impact on the nearby wildlife refuge and fish migration and is necessary to ensure public safety and recreational access. 

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    “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 earlier this year. 

    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. Excess sand will be used to replenish nearby beaches.

    A DEP spokesman said this week that the state hopes to begin the project by mid-September, according to The Sandpaper report. 

    Days before the state announcement of the project in March, the U.S. Coast Guard temporarily removed 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. Officials say some parts of the current channel are only 6 feet below mean sea level. 

    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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