Dredging navigational channels in the Shark River will begin within the next few weeks under a contract to dredge about 106,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river’s western section.
The announcement that the dredging will begin this year was made yesterday after a preconstruction conference Wed., Oct. 14 at the New Jersey Department of Transportation Engineering and Operations Building in Trenton.
“After so many years working to get the river dredged, I’m extremely happy that we will see work in this calendar year. This would not be happening without the help of all municipalities around the river and county and state officials,” Neptune Township Committeeman Randy Bishop said yesterday.
Bishop said that the river will be dredged as much as possible by the end of this year, when the federal Marine Fisheries permit expires due to environmental concerns about marine and fish life. The permit would allow any remaining dredging operations to commence again in the fall of next year, if needed.
Dredge materials will be placed on a former dredge spoils site along the Shark River in Belmar that has been used for this purpose in the past. Another potential site is on the river in Neptune, near Seaview Island.
The project’s $7.6 million contract was recently awarded to Mobile Pumping and Dredging Co., based in Chester, PA. Under federal and state regulations, dredging is allowed from Sept. 7, 2015 through Dec. 31, with environmental constraints determining what periods dredging can occur.
Stakeholders and supporters of dredging the river showed up for a special press conference on Friday, Oct. 9 on the shore of the Shark River to announce the awarding of the contract.
Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone said he was 38 years old when he got involved in the issue of dredging the Shark River and he is now 53.
He said the dredging “has been a long time coming” but that it will “be well-worth it” and is a “great initiative for the area.”
Arnone said that the river is a “great economic engine” in Monmouth County and that the dredging effort has been a joint venture between residents and local, county and state officials.
Sen. Jennifer Beck said the river is a large part of the quality of life in the area and that future generations need to enjoy it as well.
She said some type of financing and scheduling needs to be set up so the river can been dredged on a regular basis.
“This is the first time I think I have talked about the river and can smile,” Bishop said at the press conference.
He said some nearby residents may experience some short-term disruptions due to the project but that they need to understand the long-term benefits.
“It will be so incredible,” he said.
State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said at the press conference that Gov. Christie is committed to seeing the river dredged and that a bipartisan effort is making this happen.
Towns along the river are also pitching to help cover the cost, with Neptune contributing $450,000, Wall giving $300,000, and other municipalities also expected to contribute monetarily. The river borders five municipalities: Wall, Neptune, Neptune City, Avon and Belmar.
Dredge materials will be used for fill at the Monmouth County landfill in Tinton Falls- a move that will save taxpayers money.