Dredge is here and project is days away

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A dredge arrived Monday to begin the process of clearing the channel. - Stacey Rupolo

A massive dredge moved into place in Menemsha Monday, and is ready to finish a long-awaited project to clear the channel.

Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers announced a new contractor, New York–based H & L Dredging, would take over for Ohio-based contractor J-Way Southern, which left the project unfinished for the second year in a row by the Jan. 31 deadline.

Work was expected to begin Sunday, Oct. 1, but will be delayed slightly, Timothy Dugan, a spokesman for the Corps, wrote in an email.

“Significant weather events, including the remnants of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, delayed the mobilization of the contractor’s equipment,” Corps’ project manager Craig Martin said. “The dredge arrived in the harbor [Monday morning], and setup of the pipeline is progressing, but the project isn’t expected to begin on Oct. 1. Although an official start date has not been provided by the contractor, it is expected the first week of October.”

Bret Stearns, natural resources director for the Aquinnah Wampanoag, said the planned project is coming just in time. The recent winds and heavy surf from Tropical Storm Jose created some beach erosion. He said he expects about 30,000 cubic yards of sand to be pumped onto Lobsterville Beach.

The planned dredging is to clear the channel to eight feet deep at low mean tide and 80 feet wide.