All Dredged Up With No Place to Go in Ocean City

All Dredged Up With No Place to Go in Ocean City

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Shallow water at low tide on the bay near West 17th Street in Ocean City. Credit: George Robinson

Ocean City continues to struggle in its quest to maintain navigable lagoons and channels for its bayside boating community. But Mayor Jay Gillian vowed on Thursday to continue to make it a priority for his administration.

Gillian addressed City Council on Thursday before they approved closing out a $1.8 million deal with a dredging contractor that started work on a project between 15th and 34th streets but couldn’t finish, because they had no place to put the dredged material

That’s the costly dilemma Gillian outlined: The city has budgeted money to dredge … but finding a disposal site remains an even more expensive proposition — complicated by strict environmental regulations.

Much of the route of Saturday’s Night in Venice boat parade — one of Ocean City’s signature events — remains impassable to boat traffic at low tide. The water is too shallow — through the natural accumulation of sand over time.

Gillian estimates that the city would have to dredge about 300,000 cubic yards of material to complete an Ocean City project “from tip to tip.”

He said the city will focus on the most practical of the many solutions it has considered:

  • A permitted site under the Route 52 bridge: The city has asked the state to modify its permit to allow an expansion of a small site near the Route 52 causeway that would be accessible to trucks that could haul material away. The site would be the most immediate solution for projects that could include Snug Harbor and Glen Cove, the two lagoons on either side of Ninth Street.
  • The existing site near 34th Street: Gillian said construction of a road into the marshes could provide access to trucks that could remove about 100,000 cubic yards of material at the existing site used for the most recent project. That work might be a $4 million effort.
  • Building new wetlands: Gillian said a $2.6 million grant from the state Division and Fish and Wildlife could lead to a permit to build new wetlands with another 180,000 cubic yards of material.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to cost a lot of money,” Gillian said. “We’re sitting at 4, 5 or 6 million dollars to do anything.”

But a bigger obstacle than the cost remains getting permission from state regulators to do anything, he said.

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See more detail on the city’s dredging plans in an update from Mayor Jay Gillian.
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Gillian’s update on Thursday preceded council’s vote on authorizing a final payment to close out a $1,829,655 contract with Hydro-Marine Construction Company of Hainesport, NJ, to dredge shallow lagoons and channels between 15th and 34th streets.

The final payment represents a $10,234 increase over the original contract price of $1,819,422.

The contractor did not complete work on the contract by the end of a permitting window on Dec. 31, 2012, and was scheduled to resume work to complete the job on July 1, 2013, but never returned.

The dredging company did not finish work at Carnival Bayou Lagoon (between 16th and 17th streets) or at parts of Venetian Bayou Lagoon (between 17th and 18th streets) and Clubhouse Lagoon (between Waterway Road and Clubhouse Drive).

Hydro-Marine Construction removed 73,000 cubic yards of dredged material under a contract that called for the dredging of 106,000 cubic yards, according to Ocean City Community Operations Director Roger McLarnon.

But through no fault of the contractor, the site where the dredge spoils were permitted to be dumped did not have as much capacity as was originally estimated, McLarnon said Wednesday.

The final contract figure was reduced for the dredging work that was not completed but increased for extra work in preparing the spoils site to accept the material that was able to be pumped there, he said. The net was about the same $1.8 million that the contract called for.

The city gave a separate company, Duffield Associates of Cape May Court House, a $194,634 contract to engineer and design the project and provide permitting services. Duffield was not the low bidder on the project but was awarded a professional services contract based, in part, on the company’s reputation for good work.

The resolution that City Council passed on Thursday did not address Duffield’s contract or its work in assessing the spoils site.

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