Corps To Dredge Inlet Over Weekend, Return Later In Month

Corps To Dredge Inlet Over Weekend, Return Later In Month
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OCEAN CITY — The Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to arrive in Ocean City on Friday to begin a quick-fix dredging project at the Inlet in advance of a large project scheduled for later this month.

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) was able to arrange for its hopper dredge Currituck to make a pit stop in Ocean City over the weekend to conduct the dredging of some shoaling hotspots in the Inlet. The Currituck, based out the ACE Wilmington District in North Carolina, is expected to arrive in the area sometime Friday on its way to its next scheduled dredging project in New Jersey.

This short-term quick fix will focus specifically on the authorized navigation channel in the Inlet. ACE crews will remove roughly 5,000 cubic yards of material. The maintenance work is expected to help improve navigation conditions in the federal channel. The Currituck will be targeting some of the usual hotspots in the channel including the regular trouble spot between buoys 11 and 12 as well as the area near the Coast Guard Station and the seawall between buoys eight and 10.

When the Currituck crew completes its quick-fix project this weekend, the ACE’s other hopper dredge that often frequents the resort area, the Murden, is expected to come back later in November to complete the scheduled fall cycle of the Assateague bypass project. The Murden will remove material in and around the navigation channel with an emphasis on the ebb and flood shoals which traditionally trap sand moving southward to Assateague. The Murden is expected to be in the area for that project for around 30 days.

The regularly-scheduled bypass dredging is performed twice a year to assist with sediment transported across the Inlet to Assateague with the dual function of clearing the navigation channel while supplying material to the sand-starved north end of Assateague caused by the Inlet and its book-end jetties.

For a variety of natural and man-made reasons, the channels in and around the Inlet and near the mouth of the commercial harbor in West Ocean City naturally fill in from time to time throughout the year. In recent years, however, the problem has become more acute to the point it has curtailed commercial and recreational activity out of Ocean City.

For example, in March, the Currituck spent a month in the Ocean City area and worked practically around the clock to dredge the Inlet after the always-challenging shoaling problem was exacerbated by Winter Storm Jonas late last January. With the Inlet shoaling in even further after that storm, the channel again became impassable at times, even on the highest tides.

While the dredging work planned for the Currituck this weekend is a quick-fix of sorts for the known hotspots, the Murden will come in later this month for the larger problems near the ebb and flow shoals near Assateague. The two vessels continue to battle to maintain the Inlet channel to the federally-authorized depth of 10 feet, but a larger plan is in the works 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, although progress has been slow on that effort.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.