September 18, 2012
Pipeline dredge working in Ocracoke Inlet
and headed to Hatteras Inlet soon
By CONNIE LEINBACH
pipeline dredge Richmond arrived in Ocracoke’s Silver Lake Harbor early
in September and began maintenance dredging Sept. 7 of the Big Foot
Slough off Ocracoke, according to Hank Heusinkfeld of the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, who contracts dredging operations in North Carolina.
Hatteras Inlet has been plagued with heavy shoaling (or sand buildup)
since Hurricane Irene carved a swath through the Outer Banks in late
August of last year. Ocracoke Inlet fared better than
Hatteras but still is in need of periodic dredging.
Heusinkfeld said the Ocracoke dredging will take 25 days, weather
permitting. After that, the dredge will make its way to the
Rollinson Channel in Hatteras Inlet which is the channel the
Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries use.
Darlene Stryon, the Hyde County commissioner from Ocracoke, wondered
about why the dredge was in Ocracoke first and not Hatteras.
“They need it there first,” she said about the Hatteras channel. “I
know the ferry has bumped bottom a couple of times (recently) and they
didn’t run on one evening because of (the shoaling).”
Heusinkveld said that it was just how it was scheduled -- first to Ocracoke, then to Hatteras.
Jed Dixon, deputy director for the North Carolina Department of
Transportation Ferry Division, said the window of opportunity for
dredging opened Sept. 1 after environmental concerns were addressed.
While it is here, the dredge will operate round-the-clock vacuuming
sand off the sound floor and depositing it on the “spoil” islands near
Both of the critical channels that the ferries travel are under federal
jurisdiction, he said, and the dredge operation was being funded with
$1.9 million in contributions from state and federal agencies.
“It’s been a lot of hard work to make this happen,” he said. “We’re
glad to finally have it come to a head for this long-needed dredging.”
Although the sidecaster dredge Merritt has been to Hatteras Inlet a few
times in the last few years, Dixon could not remember when the last
time the pipeline dredge was here.
The Ocracoke slough (pronounced “slew”) extends west from the “Ditch,”
or the Silver Lake harbor opening, out to a small island of sand built
over the years by dredge spoil, and which is locally known as “Bird
Island.” Dredge material in Hatteras will be deposited on Cora
June Island, also a dredge-spoil island.
The Richmond is owned by the Cotrell Contracting Corporation of Chesapeake, Va.