A contract to dredge about 106,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Shark River’s western navigational channels was awarded last week and officials hope dredging will begin by the end of this year.
“It’s been years and it’s been a fight; it has been a long road,” Neptune Township Committeeman Randy Bishop said at this week’s Township Committee meeting.
Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11), Monmouth County Freeholder Tom Arnone, and Bishop issued a statement last week announcing that the state Department of Transportation’s Office of Maritime Resources has awarded the bid to complete the Shark River dredging project.
“It possible it could begin this fall,” Bishop said.
The project’s $7.6 million contract was awarded to Mobile Pumping & Dredging Co., based in Chester, PA. Under federal and state regulations, dredging is allowed from Sept. 7, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2016, with environmental constraints determining what periods dredging can occur.
“After over two decades, there has finally been a bid awarded to dredge Shark River. I’m happy to see this monumental step taken forward which, if all the stars align, will allow dredging to begin this year,” Beck said.
She said the dredging project was a bipartisan effort that involved state, county, and local stakeholders. She added that while the state is investing more than $5 million, the project couldn’t have moved forward without the assistance of Monmouth County, which is accepting the material at its landfill and helping to fund the trucking.
“With cooperation from the Monmouth County landfill, which has agreed to take the dredge materials, and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders providing some funding, we have made this project a reality. Not one part of the Shark River project was easy or simple, but we found a way to accomplish this,” Arnone said.
Neptune Township introduced a $300,000 bond ordinance Monday that will help fund the project. Preliminary discussions are also taking place with Belmar, Neptune City, and Wall Township for cost-sharing.
“The persistence of the local community to get this project done was instrumental in helping us over the finish line” Arnone said.
Bishop said he “couldn’t be more pleased” with the level of cooperation from various agencies on the project.
“I’m happy to have been a part of this vital effort in our region. My thanks go out to all stakeholders who worked tirelessly to ensure that we save the Shark River. Every level of government had to work seamlessly to even get the project to this stage,” he said.
The river was last dredged in 1980 and it borders five municipalities: Wall, Neptune, Neptune City, Avon and Belmar.