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Multi-Year Dredging Project in Cape Cod Area Kicking Off with Robert B. Our Co. & Barnstable County’s Dredge

Posted on January 12, 2024

CHATHAM – Dredging is expected to begin later this week in the waters off 90 Bridge St., the start of a multi-year, multi-million dollar project that will result in a brand new, state-of–the-art shellfishing growing facility.

The first step is dredging approximately 2,000 cubic yards of sand from the Mitchell River, just off the existing rock wall at 90 Bridge St. The work will clear out the area where floats and piers for the new upwelling building will be located, making it more accessible for vessels as well as providing deeper water for a seawater intake system for the shellfish facility, according to Coastal Resources Director Ted Keon.

“The main reason we’re doing it now [is] this work needs to be done before any pier can be constructed,” he said of the dredging.

The town’s current shellfish upwelling facility on the ground floor of the harbormaster building at nearby Old Mill Boatyard has outgrown its useful life. The historic Stage Harbor Coast Guard boathouse will be renovated to accommodate the new upwelling facility and will be set on pilings over the water just off the town-owned 90 Bridge St. property.

There are multiple phases to the project, which has been in the planning stages for several years. Some have yet to be funded, Keon said. The next step after dredging is rebuilding the bulkhead, which he said is a critical component of the project. Engineers have estimated the cost at about $1.9 million, although it has not yet been put out to bid. However, last year the town received a $1 million grant from the state Seaport Economic Council, and additional money is likely to come from the town’s waterways user fund.

Further dredging will be done after the new bulkhead is in place to deepen the water to provide better access, Keon said.

Additional funding will be needed for the pier and float work, which comes after the bulkhead phase, and is likely to be sought at this May’s annual town meeting, Keon said. He’s also on the lookout for grants that may help cover those costs.

The historic boathouse currently sits at a boatyard in Quincy. Its return and renovation is the final phase of the project, along with a small building housing rest rooms and storage. The boathouse itself is being donated to the town; in 2021, town meeting approved $243,250 in community preservation funds to transport the building from Quincy to Chatham, and last May another $350,000 in community preservation money was approved for restoration and renovation of the structure. That amount was half of what was requested by the town; the other half is expected to be sought at this May’s annual town meeting.

The return of the boathouse and its restoration and renovation are likely at least a year off, Keon said.

The town will pay half of the Mitchell River dredging cost, with the other half coming from a $500,000 state dredging grant. Contractor Robert B. Our Co. will use a barge and crane to dredge, and the material will be loaded onto a scow for dewatering. A long-reach excavator will offload the dredged sand onto trucks for transport to an approved upland storage area off Great Western Road in Harwich, Keon said. Testing of the sediment showed that it was not suitable to use for beach nourishment, he added.

The work is expected to take about three weeks, and the Mitchell River and Mitchell River bridge will remain clear for navigation.

Additional Dredging

The Barnstable County dredge will be heading to the Stage Harbor entrance channel once it completes work in Harwich’s Round Cove, Keon said. Piping is being staged at Harding’s Beach now, but the dredging is not expected to begin until the end of the month or early February, he said.

The dredge will once again remove sand that is being pushed into the entrance channel by strong currents coming from the east. Although this has been a problem for the past several years, Keon said the shoaling in the channel is not as bad as in the previous few years. Nonetheless, the shoal building along the east side of the channel must be removed to ensure safe navigation through the busy area.

Material removed from the channel will be pumped to a “feeder beach” just west of Cockle Cove Beach, Keon said. Sand placed there moves with the currents toward the east, helping to build up beaches between Cockle Cove and Harding’s. While the latter beach has not eroded as much as in past years, Keon said the Dec. 18 storm hit Cockle Cove Beach and Forest Beach hard. Sand was brought in to bolster Cockle Cove and sand that had been washed into the Forest Beach parking lot was pushed back onto the beach by DPW crews. The Battlefield Road town landing was also hit hard by erosion in that storm, Keon said, and sand was brought in to repair the shore two weeks ago.


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