Dredging of Gordon Pass in Naples put off; Army Corps of Engineers Diverts Funding

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Posted January 22, 2019

The project was supposed to be completed this summer.

The Army Corps of Engineers has put on hold indefinitely a $2.9 million dredging of Gordon Pass in Naples.

The project had been scheduled for this summer.

Susan Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Corps, said it's a Class III project and that no Class III projects received direct funding this year. Class III projects are based on criteria such as damage from storms and a cost-to-benefit ratio.

"The changes made recently in our Operations and Maintenance program were to reprioritize internal funding due to post-Harvey, Irma and Maria hurricane damages," Jackson wrote in a Jan. 15 email. "We identified Class III navigation projects that were not high priority and will not get funded for construction at this time."

Jackson said funding for some Class III projects might be available in the future.

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In 2015, the Corps rejected a call from then-U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Bonita Springs, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, to put $2.5 million in its budget for fiscal 2016 to dredge the pass.

By February 2016, the project had a spot in the Corps' civil works program for fiscal 2016 and was set to receive $2 million, but the Corps didn't have enough money to dig out a hole north of the channel to catch sand before it can clog up the channel again.

At the time, critics said that could mean the pass would fill in again sooner than later.

Former charter boat captain Elizabeth Bloch, who has personal experience with the dangers of shallow passes, said she was surprised to hear there were problems in the pass, since it was dredged less than two years ago.

In 2013, Bloch was navigating her 43-foot charter sailboat through Gordon Pass when it bumped a sand bar, causing $18,000 worth of damage to her boat. The damage forced her to close her business for 10 weeks, Bloch said.

"The problem with Gordon Pass is there are sandbars on either side of it, so wind or waves from any direction could cause those sandbars to shift and block the pass," she said. "I guess this is going to be a continuing problem."

Gordon Pass also was dredged in 2002 and 2010.

Source: Naples Daily News