Posted on September 29, 2023
Clearwater-based Gator Dredging won a $9.6 million contract to excavate hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of material from Seaport Manatee, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday.
The dredged material will be used at Washington Park north of Palmetto to fill in portions of a 68-acre borrow pit that was dug in the 1950s for the construction of U.S. Hwy. 41. That will help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ goal of increasing the percentage of beneficial use of its dredged material, according to spokesperson David Ruderman.
William Coughlin, CEO and owner of Gator Dredging, said the project should take about a year and will employ about 22 of its 100 operational employees. The company, also known as Waterfront Property Services, was founded in 2005. It will contract out the trucking of the material — it may take 62,000 truckloads to fill in the whole pit.
The dredging project is funded entirely by the federal infrastructure law passed in 2021, Ruderman said. Offloading so much material will allow the port to regain capacity to accommodate additional dredging cycles, according to port spokesperson Virginia Zimmerman.
“Precise quantities are difficult to specify, but it is expected to remove something in the neighborhood of 700,000 to 800,000 cubic yards of material from the dredged material management area,” Ruderman wrote in a statement. “That’s three to four times as much material as was excavated and beneficially re-purposed in previous iterations.”
Washington Park is a historically Black neighborhood developed in the 1920s and part of the census-designated place of Memphis. The construction of U.S. 41 in the 20th century bifurcated the western portion of the neighborhood. The new park — the largest recreational green space in the Palmetto area — will be an asset to the community, elected officials said in 2021.
The first phase of construction started in July 2021, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported. Manatee County committed $2.75 million in grant funds to build a trail system, a central pavilion, a children’s play area, a multiuse field, restrooms and parking.
The park will measure 88 acres and should create a healthier habitat for birds, reptiles and amphibians.