U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, R- N.C., is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allocate additional funding to dredge Eastern North Carolina’s Oregon and Hatteras inlets.
In a letter sent last week, Congressman Jones reminded Army Corps of Engineers leadership of the chronically poor navigation conditions at both inlets.
He also pointed out that the amounts provided in the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget request – $2 million for Oregon Inlet and $300,000 for Hatteras Inlet – are insufficient to keep the channels maintained at anything close to their authorized depths. In fact, without supplemental funds, both channels may be in danger of closing to vessel traffic during the year.
While Congress no longer has the ability to legislatively increase funding for specific projects because of an earmark ban imposed in 2011, Congress did attempt to address some of the waterway maintenance issues across the nation in the recently-passed Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill for the Corps.
In that bill, Congress created several unallocated pots of money for different project categories, and gave the Corps discretion in determining which projects to fund from these pots. In his letter to the Corps, Congressman Jones argued that Oregon and Hatteras Inlets are the type of projects Congress had in mind when it provided the Corps with these additional resources.
“Maintaining Oregon and Hatteras inlets is vital to the Dare and Hyde County economy,” said Congressman Jones. “Fishermen, recreational boaters and the Coast Guard must have reliable access through the inlets, and I will continue to do everything I can to fight for that cause.”