EMERALD ISLE — Dredging of the new, deeper-water connector channel to link Bogue Inlet and the ocean to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway could end this weekend or, at the latest, early next week.
Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, which oversees dredging and beach nourishment in the county, said in an email Friday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sidecast dredge boat Merritt has made great progress, thanks to “weather and surface conditions that have been A+, 5 stars.”
The long-awaited project began Sunday and, prior to that, Mr. Rudolph said he expected it would take seven to 10 days.
The Merritt is dredging a new channel closer to Dudley Island, taking advantage of existing deeper water.
“This makes sense from dredging efficiency standpoint,” Mr. Rudolph said, “but it significantly changes the way boaters will access Bogue Inlet to and from the AIWW.”
Once the work is done, the ACE will mark the new channel. It’s essentially the way the channel had been until recent years, and the hope is it’s more natural and less likely to shoal again soon.
The dredge “is right on schedule, as they dredged the shoaling hot spot near Dudley Island first and transitioned (Thursday) to where the Coast Guard Channel meets the Point at Bogue Inlet,” Mr. Rudolph said in the email Friday.
The vessel is called a sidecast dredge for good reason.
“The material is pumped and from the bottom and sprayed to one side of the Merritt or the other,” he said. “The Corps tries to ‘go with the current’ when spraying the discharge so the material doesn’t just go right back into the channel.”
The connecting channel depth is authorized at -6 feet mean lower low water, which means the average of the lower low water height on each tidal day observed by the National Ocean Service over the most recent 19-year period, or tidal “epoch.” The ocean bar depth is authorized at -8 feet MLLW.
Mr. Rudolph said he hopes the new channel in the volatile, ever-changing inlet will be good for at least a year.
“We would love for it to last until spring 2023, but we will ask the communities to put a little funding aside for a fiscal year 2022-2023 maintenance event nonetheless,” he said.
The work, the latest in a series of Bogue Inlet dredging projects funded by the state and local governments near the inlet, is necessary because of what Emerald Isle officials and Mr. Rudolph call “severe shoaling in the current channel alignment.” Once done, it should provide safe passage for boats to and from the ocean for the remainder of the busy fall fishing season.
To fund the project, Cape Carteret and Swansboro pitched in $2,500 each. Onslow County contributed $47,000 and Emerald Isle provided $10,000. Carteret County provided $35,000. North Carolina provided $200,000 for a total of $380,000.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.