With the clock ticking before a seasonal dredging window closes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized an agreement this week with a Port Jefferson-based contractor to dredge Mattituck Inlet, according to federal officials.
The project, originally estimated to cost about $3 million, will be completed by Village Dock Contracting Inc., for $2.2 million, Chris Gardner, an Army Corps spokesman said.
The federal government opened the project up for bid Dec. 6., receiving proposals from two companies, according to federal reports. Mr. Gardner said the contract was signed Tuesday.
A representative from Village Dock Contracting Inc. was not immediately available for comment.
The federal government agreed to dredge Mattituck Inlet, for which the Army Corps is responsible, this fall — a project 15 years in the making — and to use the dredged material to rebuild the heavily-eroded beach to the east of the stone jetties.
“The idea is to meet with [the contractor] as soon as possible and get the work done as soon as possible, so once we’re able to get started it should not take that long to get to work,” said Chris Gardner, Corps spokesman.
Congressman Tim Bishop said once started, the project is expected to take a couple of weeks.
State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations require waterway dredging to be completed by Jan. 15. to protect aquatic life, which could affect whether the project is started this year, he said.
“Once we meet with the contractor and come up with a timeline, that is where we would be discussing a need for any sort of maneuvering around such deadlines,” Mr. Gardner said.
To get an exemption from that dredge window, the Army Corps must apply for a DEC permit and be approved by the DEC to complete the work, said David Bergen, Southold Town Trustee.
It would not be the first waterway within Southold that has received such a permit, he said.
“We were able to get an exemption to the dredge windows last year to Little Creek. I, on behalf of the Trustees, had applied for and obtained it,” he said.
Mr. Bishop said he was “very hopeful that the DEC will grant that extension,” should the need arise.
The stone jetties, originally built in 1906, extend out into the Sound interrupting the natural west to east movement of sand, known as the littoral drift. As a result, a large amount of sand has collected against the west side of the west jetty. But with currents starved of sand, the Sound has scoured away the beach to the east, said Ron McGreevy, who has been lobbying for the last 15 years for the Army Corps to act.
According to the Army Corps July 2010 Section 111 Study, about 12,000 cubic yards of sand come down the beach from the west every year, collecting around different areas of the inlet.
The study stated that about 7,000 cubic yards builds up on the western side of the jetty building up western beaches; about 3,000 cubic yards goes over into a shoal in front of the inlet’s entrance, essentially blocking part of it; and the remaining 2,000 cubic yards goes inside the inlet itself, building up and hindering vessels from safely navigating the waterway.
The dredging work, which calls for removing close to 100,000 cubic yards of material from the inlet, will both widen and deepen the inlet channel to a depth of 11 feet below mean low tide. The dredged sand will be placed on the beach in a 20-foot-wide strip of about 4,500 feet long from the eastern jetty, according to a May release from Mr. Bishop’s office.
“It’s one of the four inlets in my district that the Corps is responsible for. Mattituck is perhaps the least active, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Recreational and commercial fishing is a big part of our heritage and we have an obligation to maintain navigable waterways that are also safe. This is a very important project and I am delighted we are on the cusp of getting it done,” Mr. Bishop said in an interview Thursday.