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State OKs August start for Brigantine dredging project

Posted on July 27, 2022

BRIGANTINE — Reversing its decision to postpone dredging to the island’s St. George’s Thorofare until next year, the state Department of Transportation is squeezing the work in this year.

As part of the plan, portions of The Cove are expected to be closed beginning next month, officials said last week.

The waterway has been in dire need of dredging while sediment has piled up near its mouth at the Absecon Inlet making the area hazardous.

“The DOT was very understanding of our concerns and came up with a great plan to complete the project while keeping a majority of The Cove beach open,” Mayor Vince Sera said in a recent statement .

The dredging would hamper some access to The Cove, a popular beach in summer often filled with cars and bathers on the weekends.
The project should begin in early August and be completed in stages. Equipment should be moved into place by Saturday, city officials said, without stating the project’s cost.

The timeframe for the project could be adjusted depending on circumstances, officials said.

NJDOT, after meeting in March with Sera, state Sen. Vince Polistina, R-Atlantic, and a representative of U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, had said the project would have to wait until 2023, given the year’s dredging projects for the year had already been prepared.

NJDOT told the city the entire Cove would need to be off limits while crews dispose of the piled-up sentiment, but it has formulated a plan where the beach will be closed in sections.

Acknowledging the spot’s value to summer crowds, the city passed on having the project done in 2021, taking a chance on DOT being able to return in 2022.

Why NJDOT changed its mind about the project’s timeframe is unclear.

An NJDOT spokesperson directed questions to a press officer via email, but one did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The beach will also have its sand replenished as part of the project, officials said.

The project is expected to take between four and six weeks, as long as the weather doesn’t hinder the process, officials said.

Boaters are being notified that they’ll likely be barred from passing through the Thorofare between early August and possibly mid-September while the sediment is being removed, officials said.

The city found itself in a unique situation with having the project completed because the Thorofare is known to be home to a protected bird, in which state Department of Environmental Protection regulations only allow the work to be done in summer, when the island is its busiest.

“The city understands that the timing of this project is not ideal, but due to the DEP regulations on when dredging can be done and the schedule of the contractor, we have no other choice but to allow the DOT to do the project now,” Sera said.

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