Dare County Waterways Commission discussed a range of current and
upcoming dredging projects at a lightly attended meeting in Buxton on
Monday, Dec. 12.
commission currently has two major goals, both related to shoaling in
Hatteras Inlet. The immediate goal is to keep the channel west of the
gorge -- or the long route -- that maritime traffic has been using
open, and the long-term goal is to re-open the shorter route east of
the gorge, which is a much more complicated project, logistically.
Hughes, an environmental resources biologist with the U.S. Corps of
Engineers, outlined the steps the Corps had taken to date to work on
the long-term goal of reopening the shorter route.
in order to dredge effectively for the proposed short route, the Corps
of Engineers needs to adjust the planned 100-foot corridor with 50-foot
wideners on either side. This will essentially make it easier to follow
the deep water when dredging using a side-cast, hopper, or pipeline –
which are all possible dredging methods for an upcoming project at this
point. In order to add the 50-foot wideners, the Corps needs to go
through a permit process, which includes coordination with the resource
agencies and other entities with a stake in the dredging.
Corps has started these initial steps by sending out geotechs to take
sediment samples from the planned route – a process which has not been
done since 2006. These materials will then be analyzed to characterize
the material type, and determine the optimal disposal options.
addition to the presentation and updates from the Corps of Engineers on
the long-term short corridor, the commission also discussed a number of
topics related to current dredging projects.
Petty Officer Manuel Gonzales of the U.S. Coast Guard reported that a
proposal has been submitted to get two offshore buoys returned to the
main channel. Based on the schedule of the cutter required to move the
buoys, if the proposal gets approved in the near future, the two buoys
could be moved by the first week of January. Otherwise, because of the
specific schedule of the cutter, it will happen in March.
USCG also moved five buoys to follow the new “S-curves,” which have
recently appeared in the area near markers 14 and 15, behind Hatteras
“The biggest news here is that we’re making strides to get these buoys moved,” said Gonzales at the meeting.
Corps of Engineers also reported that the dredge vessel Merritt had
departed the Morehead City region that morning and was headed towards
Manteo. The Merritt will be used to dredge the 14/15 S-curves area,
where the ferries make their turn around Barney's Slough, with the
proposed dredging slated to begin in late December, either on the 19th,
or around the 26th.
the meeting, the Corps of Engineers also unveiled the Nov. 15-18 survey
for Hatteras Inlet, which showed little change from previous surveys.
addition to the immediate dredging around the S-curves, the commission
also reviewed the status of the upcoming dredging project throughout
the “Big Box” of Hatteras Island, or the area throughout the inlet
region where dredging needs to be permitted.
Coastal Planning & Engineering, Inc. which is based in Wilmington,
N.C., had recently partnered with the county to address dredging west
of the gorge at Hatteras Inlet.
to CB&I Client Program Manager Ken Wilson at a late August
Waterways Commission meeting, the contract allows the Corps to dredge a
channel following the deep water area in the Connecting Channel or West
Channel region and allows the Corps to dredge within the “Big Box” to
follow whatever slough opens up for that area in the coming years.
addition, the second objective of the contract and subsequent permits
is to allow the Corps of Engineers to do maintenance dredging
across the ocean bar to make sure they can get the hopper dredge across
the ocean bar if they need to, and the third objective is to establish
a near-shore disposal area on the northeastern edge of Ocracoke Island.
this point, all of the permits have been completed and have been handed
over to the different organizations that are required to give their
blessing, so to speak, for the project to move forward.
has been going smoothly so far, however there was a potential hiccup
when the state Office of Historic Preservation, one of the agencies
involved in the permit review process, expressed concerns a week prior
to the meeting about the size of the "Big Box," and whether an
archeological survey was required.
that means in layman’s terms is more money, and more time,” said
committee member Steve “Creature” Coulter in an interview after the
meeting. “So we pushed back on that.”
of the Dec. 12 meeting, the issue had been resolved, and no
archeological survey will be required, provided that the Corps
continues to dredge where they had before, within the “Big Box.” If the
Corps needs to go outside the box, then an archeological survey would
come into play again.
a proactive step, the Dare County Board of Commissioners in conjunction
with the Waterways Commission, has started to investigate what an
archeological survey would cost, in case the “box” needed to be
enlarged at some point in the future.
was also some discussion on the potential dredging that would be
required if and when the Hatteras-Ocracoke passenger ferry comes to
fruition. Essentially, the new ferry would turn right out of Hatteras
Harbor, and then go out of Rollinson Channel, which has not been
dredged in a long time, and which will need to be cleaned up in order
to avoid potential delays.
it stands, if a passenger ferry went through the route and encountered
another vessel, the channel is narrow enough that both vessels would
likely have to slow down to pass.
meeting was attended by representatives from the U.S. Corps of
Engineers, the NCDOT Ferry Division, members of the U.S. Coast Guard,
and few – if any – members of the general public.
members Ronald Lowe, Dan Oden, Steve “Creature” Coulter, David May, and
Fletcher Willey were in attendance – Danny Couch and Ernie Foster were
next meeting of the Dare County Waterways Committee will be Jan. 9 in
Manteo, and the next Buxton meeting will be Feb. 13. The committee
plans to hold their monthly meeting every other month in Buxton for the
duration of 2017.