Army Corps of Engineers terminates contract with Menemsha dredge contractor

The Army Corps of Engineers terminated a contract with J-Way Southern. —Sam Moore

The delay-plagued $2.2 million Menemsha dredge project will have a new contractor when work resumes later this year. According to a March 6 two-page letter, the Army Corps of Engineers has terminated the contract with Ohio-based J-Way Southern (J-Way), based on a post-dredge survey conducted on Feb. 13, 2017.

“J-Way has failed to meet the terms and conditions of the contract by failing to make progress and failing to complete required dredging within the dredging operation period of performance,” the letter to J-Way owner Allen Johnson states. “J-Way’s failure to meet its contract obligations is not excusable. The contract is hereby terminated in its entirety … You are directed to repair all damage caused by your firm during the course of the contract.”

The letter also states that all J-Way equipment, which includes a barge, pumps, bulldozers, and pipeline that currently lines Lobsterville Road, must be removed by March 21.

J-Way was contracted to dredge 41,000 cubic yards of sand in 2015.

The project was first halted on Jan. 31, 2016, to comply with the conditions of a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries (DMF). The DMF stipulated that work had to stop on that date to allow for the winter flounder migration. When the project was halted, approximately 15,000 cubic yards had been dredged, according to the Army Corps estimates.

The dredging resumed this past December. An Army Corps progress survey on Jan. 10 showed that J-Way had removed approximately 4,000 more cubic yards of dredge material.

In total, after two years of dredging, roughly 19,000 cubic yards of the contracted 41,000 cubic yards has been dredged from the channel, with more sand likely to accrete over the winter.

Bret Stearns, director of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) natural resources department, and Island point man for the project, told The Times on Wednesday that sand will likely accrete in the channel during the projected nine-month delay, especially given this week’s powerful nor’easter. “But I’ve been assured by the Army Corps that the project will be completed,” he said. Mr. Stearns said that to the best of his knowledge, dredging would follow the same schedule as during the previous two years, with operations beginning after the Derby and ending by Jan. 31, 2018.

The Army Corps could not be reached for comment.