Posted August 24, 2020
A federal agency is cutting a channel between the mainland and Fort Myers Beach after two powerful hurricanes partially filled in the popular shipping lane.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the middle of a dredging project that stretches 2.5 miles, from San Carlos Bay near Bowditch Point Park to the shrimp terminals south of San Carlos Bridge and on the mainland.
"Coastal sediment travels up and down the coast and it builds up on that inner, northeastern portion of Bowditch Point," said David Ruderman, with the Army Corps. "The Corps did a similar project in 2016. This is a recurring thing and (dredging) is just better for everybody involved."
The $3.1 million project will create a 12-foot-wide channel that will vary in depth from 11 to 12 feet, according to Army Corps records.
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"Shoaling due to Hurricanes Hermine and Irma have created dangerous conditions in the outer bar cuts near (Bowditch) point," Army Corps plans for the dredging state.
The channel runs under the Matanzas Bridge and is used by shrimping and fishing boats as well as sight-seeing and recreational operations.
So where's all the sand going?
"(Workers will) be running a pipe around Bowditch and they’ll be sucking up this material and piping it to a nearshore deposit area," Ruderman said. "They'll bring in booster pumps on barges to work on the (Gulf of Mexico) side."
Ruderman said pumps will be used to push the excess material to offshore deposit areas to help ward off beach erosion in that area.
"They know it’s the right place to fill and they’ll start at the extreme and work their way back (toward the pier and beach)," Ruderman said.
The narrow channel is also shallow in some parts thanks to shoaling, where sand has been pushed by currents and storms.
Dredging here is a regular event, but some boaters in the area think dredging should be done more often here to keep boaters safe.