The long-awaited planned dredging of the Little Egg Inlet is becoming closer to reality, state officials announced.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is currently reviewing proposals for the work after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a dredging permit earlier this month, The SandPaper reports.
The state Coastal Engineering Department said in March that dredging of Little Egg Inlet, a major artery between Long Beach Island and Brigantine, 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 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.
Officials had set an initial target date of July 1 to commence work. During the summer, an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman said the agency was working to coordinate with the other federal agencies on Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge or fisheries issues.
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.
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.