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Officials: Dredging over but more needs to be done; Norfolk Dredging Company completes $9 million project to dredge 226,000 yd3

The Delaware and a support vessel shortly before departing Plum Island last weekend.

Posted on April 17, 2023

Just about as fast as it arrived, the 400-foot dredger Delaware has left the area with an expansive and pristine beach in its wake.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked with Norfolk Dredging Company to complete the final stages of a $9 million project to dredge 226,000 cubic yards of sand from the Salisbury and Newburyport sides of the Merrimack River.

The dredged sand was deposited and sculpted into a new beach at Plum Island’s Reservation Terrace, where a vacant home on 73rd Street was damaged by a storm Christmas weekend.

Norfolk Dredging is a subcontractor for New York-based H &L Contracting, which was unable to finish the job with its 200-foot dredger Oyster Bay this winter.

The Delaware arrived in the area about March 24, and Mayor Sean Reardon told the City Council on Monday that the dredging was completed late last week and the last of the equipment left Plum Island over the weekend.

“The channel is clear,” he said.

Reardon said Norfolk Dredging was able to deliver just over 180,000 cubic yards of sand to Reservation Terrace and all the way down to 77th Street.

“They added about 400 feet of beachfront, which is pretty amazing,” he said.

State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, also appeared before the City Council and said the dredging project is merely a temporary measure.

“That sand is sacrificial. It buys us time to create a more lasting solution but the conversation around that more lasting solution is ongoing,” he said.

The Army Corps of Engineers still needs to address the problem it created when it built the Plum Island breakwater without a spur roughly 10 years ago, according to Tarr and others.

Reardon said he and Tarr, as well as state Rep. Dawne Shand, D-Newburyport, met with the Army Corps of Engineers last week to discuss moving forward with a study of the jetty to find a long-term solution on Plum Island.

The study is being funded with $240,000 in federal money secured by Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, according to Reardon, who said talks have gone well so far.

“It was a pretty good first conversation and I think we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Reardon said Harbormaster Paul Hogg and his team have been installing the docks.

In other news, the council voted 10-0 to appoint Wayne Amaral as the next Department of Public Services director. Ward 4 Councilor Christine Wallace recused herself from the vote.

Amaral served as the department’s deputy director from 2014 to 2018 and most recently ran West Newbury’s Public Works Department. He will take over for former Director Anthony Furnari, who left the city amid controversy in August after being scheduled to retire in February.

Deputy Director Jamie Tuccolo took over as acting director for Furnari but he left last month to take a job as the director of the Salisbury Department of Public Works.


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