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Commission Plans Inlet, Harbor Dredging

Hatteras Inlet from above. The inlet is set to be dredged in the fall. Photo: Ocracoke Observer/C. Leinbach

Reprinted from Island Free Press

BUXTON — The Dare County Waterways Commission tackled a long list of Outer Banks projects at their Aug. 13 meeting, which included updates on Rodanthe Harbor, and the impending fall dredging at Hatteras Inlet.

The Rodanthe Harbor, which serves as the launching point for the Rodanthe-Stumpy Point Emergency Ferry, was successfully dredged in late July by the Army Corps of Engineers. The multi-purpose vessel, the Snell, tackled the shallow area close to the harbor, expanding the depths from roughly 4.5 feet to 8.5 feet.

Several topics pertaining to Hatteras Inlet were discussed in depth, starting with the need to move buoys in the South Ferry Channel. Commissioners discussed the steps that needed in order to start dredging the South Ferry Channel, or Connecting Channel, on Sept. 1, which would be a month outside the permitted window of Oct. 1 through March 31. Outside of this window, approval is required from the state Department of Environmental Quality, the Division of Coastal Management and the Corps.

“If things are in place, can we move the start date to September 1?” asked Commissioner Steve “Creature” Coulter. “My concern is that we’re going to lose all the work that (the Corps) has done in the spring.”

Joen Petersen of the Corps said the tentative answer was yes, but there were many steps required to move forward. “The (hopper dredge) Currituck is in Dare County for the month of September, so if permits were in place, we could likely get the hopper there,” said Petersen.

Waterways Commissioner and Dare County Commissioner Danny Couch said he would check with the country manager on the next steps. “We need to start to firm up a plan and take it day by day, and determine what our priorities are,” he said.

Emergency dredging in Rollinson Channel, which leads to Hatteras Harbor should begin in the fall. Photo: File

Jim Medlock, civil works project manager with the Corps, also gave an update on projects underway to address the Rollinson Channel leading to Hatteras Harbor.

In the meantime, emergency dredging in Rollinson Channel connected to Hurricane Matthew is slated to begin in the early fall, though there is not an exact start date. Medlock said that if available, the contractor could start as early as Sept. 1.

A trio of Avon property owners also addressed the Waterways Commission, asking for guidance on what to do about erosion on properties that border the northern side of the Avon Harbor. Sand from these northern properties has eroded and drifted into the harbor, creating a spit and shallower depths in the harbor itself.

Todd Horton, the Corps’ deputy chief of navigation, noted that the Avon Harbor hadn’t been dredged in at least 30 years, and it was also determined that if the primary purpose of the project was for allowing shallow-draft navigation through the channel, and not sand mitigation, it could be eligible for state funds.

The cost for such a project was also discussed, with commission members and Corps representatives noting that the area could be addressed with smaller equipment – namely an excavator – for a fraction of the price of a larger dredging project.

The Waterways Commission’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, in Manteo.

This story is provided courtesy of the Island Free Press, a digital newspaper covering Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Coastal Review Online is partnering with the Free Press to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest along our coast. 

About the Author

Joy Crist

Joy Crist is a Hatteras Island resident since 1998 and a writer and columnist with the Island Free Press. Her work has also appeared in a number of regional Outer Banks and statewide websites and publications.