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Dare OKs Additional Funds for Dredge Work

Dare County Board of Commissioners will provide the additional funding needed to break through shoaling in the South Ferry Channel. Photo: Donna Barrett/Island Free Press

Dare County Board of Commissioners will provide the additional funding needed for to break through shoaling in the South Ferry Channel, which will complete the Hatteras Inlet Dredging Project.

The board approved the request for the funds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ dredge Merritt to continue working in Hatteras Inlet long enough to break through shoaling in the South Ferry Channel, “a move that will be a game-changer for local commercial fishermen who rely on a fully open and navigable waterway,” according to the county.

The board approved the request for funding for $60,000. That plus a grant from North Carolina’s Shallow-Draft Channel Navigation and Aquatic Weed Fund made available $240,000 for the Corps to dredge 12 additional days.

The Corps began the 28-day dredging project in Hatteras Inlet earlier this month in an attempt to break through the shoal that formed in the South Ferry Channel, rendering the waterway impassable for most vessels.

The initial plan called for the Corps’ sidecaster dredge Merritt to cut through the sandbar. Once the channel was deep and wide enough, the Murden, a shallow-draft hopper dredge, was to complete the project by removing the remaining sand from the channel. After four days of dredging, the Merritt had only reached the sandbar that had sealed off the channel, and more time would be required to break through the shoaling so the Murden could be brought in, according to a release from the county.

Corps representative Joen Petersen explained during the Dare County Waterways Commission meeting March 8 that the delay in anticipated progress was due in part to the exceptionally low tides that had occurred during the dredging period.

With the Merritt’s allotted time in the waterway limited and options for alternatives running out, the Waterways Commission asked Dare County for help to secure the funds needed to give the dredge more time to address the shoaling issues in the South Ferry Channel.

“If the Dare County Board of Commissioners had not approved funding for the additional dredging, the Murden could have only dredged for eight more days, and that would have not been enough to make the South Ferry Channel deep enough and wide enough to safely navigate for all the users through the summer,” said Dare County Project Manager Brent Johnson.

For more information about the project, visit www.DareNC.com/Projects.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.