A dredge is on the way to Ocean City from Maryland, and a long-awaited project to deepen bayside lagoons and channels in Ocean City will begin "any day," according to Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo.
Dattilo said on Tuesday that the existing spoils site near 34th Street is in good shape and ready to receive dredged material. Crews have been working there for several weeks to create berms to contain the dredge spoils.
At low tide, many channels and lagoons on the bayside are impassable to boat traffic — or even to kayakers and swimmers. The starting time for the annual Night in Venice parade on July 28 had to be changed to coincide with a higher tide.
City Council in May awarded a $1.8 million contract to Hydro-Marine Construction Company of Hainesport, NJ, which had submitted the lowest of three competitive bids. Along with $194,634 in planning costs paid to Duffield Associates, the existing project should cost about $2 million.
The project is expected to take two to three months to complete, and the city has a permitting window through November 30.
The project wil include dredging in an area between 16th Street and 34th Street, including substantial parts of:
- Carnival Bayou Lagoon: Between 16th and 17th streets (the dredging in this area would include part of the bayfront heading toward 15th Street)
- Venetian Bayou Lagoon: Between 17th and 18th streets
- Sunny Harbor Lagoon: Between Arkansas and Walnut
- South Harbor Lagoon: Between Spruce and Tennessee
- Clubhouse/Bluefish Lagoon: Between Waterway Road and Clubhouse Drive
Work will begin at South Harbor Lagoon and proceed north from there, Dattilo said. The dredges will then return south to Clubhouse/Bluefish Lagoon off Waterway Road.
Advisories on boating and swimming in the work areas will be issued when the project begins, Dattilo said. He said earlier this year that the DEP has tested the material to be dredged (as is required) and that the results are available at the City Clerk's Office. He said a summary of results show levels that are "not alarming" — though they do show some metals and some organics (including benzopyrene).
The areas would be dredged to a minimum depth of four feet (at low water) and average of five feet — with some spots six feet deep.
About 100,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils can be transported to the existing site off 34th Street without further permitting.
But with the additional 100,000 cubic yards, the existing spoils site would be filled to capacity, and the absence of a new site is the primary obstacle to completing more dredging work in other parts of Ocean City.
The city is continuing to explore possibilities for other spoils sites.