Christie Administration Announces Multi-Year State Channel Dredging Program
Projects Will Improve Safety and Revitalize Local Economies Following Superstorm Sandy
(Trenton) – New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials today announced the start of a multi-year, multi-million dollar State Channel Dredging Program that will begin to return New Jersey’s waterways affected by Superstorm Sandy to a state of good repair.
“Our state channels are vital waterways that are used by recreational boaters and commercial fisherman,” NJDOT Commissioner James S. Simpson said. “Providing safe navigation channels will have a positive economic impact on small businesses such as marinas, bait and tackle shops, and charter companies, as well as New Jersey’s seafood industry.”
The first project that will go out for bid on Thursday, March 13, is for the dredging of the Waackaack and Thorns Creeks in Keansburg, Monmouth County. This project will remove approximately 36,000 cubic yards of Sandy-related sediment. Work on an adjacent Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) is expected to begin in May. Dredging is anticipated to start in June.
Typically the state would not dredge in the summer, but the new program features an aggressive schedule to maximize efforts during periods of favorable dredging conditions to alleviate hazards to boaters and commercial vessels. Efforts will be made to ensure work does not unnecessarily impede navigation.
Over the next few months, NJDOT expects to open bids for the dredging of St. Georges Thorofare (Atlantic County), Cape May Harbor and Middle Thorofare (Cape May County), and Double Creek, Double Creek – Mainland, and Barnegat Light Stake Channels in Barnegat Bay (Ocean County). These projects will remove both Sandy-related sediment and pre-storm sediment to alleviate hazards to navigation and return these channels to a state of good repair. In Cape May, the Middle Thorofare project will ensure New Jersey's commercial fishing industry is able to safely access berths that support the New Jersey seafood industry.
Asset Management Strategies
The State Channel Dredging Program will feature asset management strategies similar to those used by the Department to guide investments in other classes of assets, such as highways and bridges. This approach ensures the best use of limited resources and will consider such factors as the availability of dredge material management options, channel usage and associated economic value, the level of siltation in the channel, navigational safety, Sandy-related impacts to a channel and the related eligibility for FEMA reimbursement.
Funding for this program will come from State Transportation Trust Funds and federal sources. All of these projects are intended to receive some amount of FEMA reimbursement.
In certain circumstances there may be opportunities for counties, municipalities, marinas and private entities to partner with NJDOT contractors to dredge locally or privately-maintained waterways that adjoin state channels where work is being performed. Partnerships could provide a significant cost savings to local or private entities by reducing mobilization costs.
As feasible, the NJDOT Office of Maritime Resources will work with interested parties to determine whether dredged material management capacity can be made available, whether the sediment characteristics are appropriate to be bundled with a state project or whether a local or private entity must identify their own dredge material management location. All local and private partners will need to obtain the necessary permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
The single most important logistical aspect of a dredging project is the ability to safely and efficiently manage the dredged material. It is important to note that coastal communities state-wide should be investigating and developing local and regional opportunities for the management of dredged material. It is important for counties and municipalities to consider such opportunities as the state moves forward with the State Channel Dredging Program.
The planning and implementation of the program is a dynamic process and NJDOT will work with local officials and industry associations to provide updates as projects are identified and advanced.
NJDOT also is working with NJDEP, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the academic community to coordinate and support post-Sandy resiliency projects designed to ensure coastal defense, alleviate flooding in certain circumstances and create environmental benefits through the beneficial use of dredged material.