Posted on April 10, 2023
The 400-foot Delaware dredger is gobbling up sand at such a prodigious pace that most of the Plum Island replenishment project could be over by the end of the week, according to local and state officials.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working with Norfolk Dredging Company on the final stages of a $9 million project to dredge 226,000 cubic yards of sand from the Newburyport and Salisbury sides of the Merrimack River.
The dredged sand will then be plopped on the beach at Plum Island’s Reservation Terrace, where a vacant home on 73rd Street was badly damaged during a Christmas weekend storm, and sculpted into a new beach area.
The Virginia-based company is working as a subcontractor on the project after H&L Contracting of New York was unable to get the job done over the winter with its 200-foot dredger Oyster Bay.
Norfolk Dredging brought in the Delaware to complete the job about two weeks ago and Harbormaster Paul Hogg said the new vessel was expected to finish its work yesterday.
“They will still have all of their cleanup to do and then they will have to make sure that their surveys are good and it’s all dredged to depth,” he said. “Then, they will start breaking down all the piping and cleaning up the parking lot.”
State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, said the dredged sand has been quickly moved onto the beach at Reservation Terrace, where crews have been ready with earth-moving equipment.
“It’s very gratifying to see such a large amount of sand being used productivity,” he said.
Tarr also confirmed that the Delaware was close to completing the dredging and was joined by state Rep. Dawne Shand, D-Newburyport, and Newburyport Mayor Sean Reardon for a tour of the Delaware on Tuesday morning.
“This has been a complete change from earlier on in the project,” he said. “We are seeing efficiency and the right equipment now. We absolutely saw something fantastic happening that has been the product of a lot of hard work.”
Reardon said he was impressed by all the equipment he saw onboard.
“What a difference the right equipment makes. Look at the work they have done in just a short time right now,” he said. “We were talking about this project taking months and they were able to do most of this in less than 14 days.”
Shand said she learned that she can trust the Army Corps of Engineers.
“They did a terrific job. But nobody has worked harder to get this done then Bruce Tarr,” she said.
Reservation Terrace resident and at-large City Councilor Mark Wright was also on the tour. He said it has been very rewarding to see the project completed so quickly.
“A lot of people on Plum Island are sleeping well now, now that there is some protection in front of the houses,” he said.
Hogg added that he expects to see Norfolk Dredging in the area for at least the next week “buttoning up” the project.
“Norfolk Dredging has been a real pleasure to work with,” he said.
Hogg said the contractor removed the No. 3 navigation buoy, located on the southern side of Plum Island, to get it out of the Delaware’s way and he is letting mariners know about it.
Twenty-two navigational buoys are located along the harbor and Hogg said he expects to have No. 3 back where it belongs within the next week.
“That buoy isn’t in the water right now, it’s actually sitting in the parking lot at my office,” he said. “So, if anybody’s going out fishing and navigating and using the Cashman Park docks, just be aware that there is a buoy missing.”