OCEAN CITY — The Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to arrive in Ocean City on Friday to begin a maintenance dredging project on the navigation channel at the Inlet.
Army Corps officials announced on Thursday the hopper dredge “Currituck” is scheduled to arrive in the resort sometime late Friday afternoon or early evening. The “Currituck,” based out of the Army Corps’ Wilmington District in North Carolina is expected to begin the quick-fix dredging project at the Inlet on Saturday and the work will likely continue through next Thursday.
The project will focus specifically on the authorized federal navigation channel and crews are expected to remove roughly 7,500 to 8,000 cubic yards of material. The Inlet continually fills in through natural and man-made processes and is often impassable at certain times of the year, particularly during low tide. Army Corps of Engineers Communications Officer Chris Gardner said on Thursday there was a plan to have the “Currituck” return for Inlet maintenance, but the project was expedited somewhat because of recent shoaling conditions.
“The work was previously planned, but yes, we have recently begun receiving reports of shoaling in the Inlet and are happy to be able to address those in a timely manner through this dredging,” he said.
For a week in March, the “Currituck” worked practically around the clock to dredge the Inlet after the always-challenging shoaling problem was exacerbated by Winter Storm Jonas in late January. With the Inlet shoaling in even further after the storm, the channel again became impassable at times, even on the highest times.
While the Inlet and other channels in and around the mouth of the commercial harbor naturally fill in, the problem has become more acute in recent years to the point it is now curtailing commercial and recreational activity out of Ocean City. While the Currituck worked to dredge the Inlet to its federally-authorized depth of 10 feet, a plan is in place for a longer-term solution that could result in the dredging of the Inlet and harbor channels to a new standard of 14-16 feet.
As usual, the dredged material will be deposited on the north end of Assateague Island, serving the dual purpose of clearing the navigation channel while supply material to the sand-starved north end.