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Dredge Maintenance Puts Broadkill Beach Project on Hold Temporarily

Beach renourishment at Broadkill Beach in Delaware will help stop erosion and protect from storms. The project will continue through April 2016.

Beach renourishment at Broadkill Beach in Delaware will help stop erosion and protect from storms. The project will continue through April 2016.

The beach nourishment project at Broadkill Beach in Delaware — part of the Delaware River channel deepening — has been put on hold as dredging equipment undergoes maintenance and inspection, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District.

Two self-propelled hopper dredges owned by Weeks Marine, the B.E. Lindholm and the R.N. Weeks, were temporarily sidelined in late August. Beachfill operations are on hold until the B.E. Lindholm returns, slated for October 15. The R.N. Weeks is expected back in early November.

“This is not an exotic occurrence,” said Ed Voigt, chief of public affairs for the Corps’ Philadelphia District, noting that dredge equipment needing repairs or maintenance during the course of a project is fairly common.

“These two vessels are workhorses in our fleet,” said Mark Sickles, a Weeks Marine spokesman who handles corporate and government relations. “They are Coast Guard inspected; they’re on a cycle.” Certain maintenance and inspection activities must take place in a timely manner, he added. “You have a window you have to do it in.”

The project contract was awarded in June 2014 to Cranford, New Jersey-based Weeks Marine. The company’s dredging division, based in Covington, Louisiana, began operations at Broadkill Beach last spring. The dredges will remove 1.9 million cubic yards of material over a 15-mile stretch of the river near the end of the shipping channel. Work still is projected to wrap up in April 2016, Voigt said.

The beach nourishment project is intended to protect the shore from erosion and reduce the economic damages that can result from waves, storm surges and coastal flooding. The process can also help restore important ecosystems that may have been lost, such as wetlands, reefs and nesting areas.

The B.E. Lindholm, fitted with two loading and two unloading pumps, has a total length of 316 feet (96 meters) and breadth of 55 feet (17 meters). It dredges down to 65 feet, and has a suction diameter of 30 inches and a discharge diameter of 28 inches. The B.E. Lindholm’s hopper has a 4,000-cubic-yard capacity, and it operates on 15,005 total horsepower.

The R.N. Weeks is 288 feet long (88 meter) with a breadth of 54 feet (16 meter), and has two loading and one unloading pump. The R.N. Weeks has a 4,000-cubic-yard hopper capacity, a 30-inch suction diameter and a 28-inch discharge diameter. The vessel is capable of dredging to 70 feet deep, and operates on 10,544 total horsepower.

As the beach nourishment proceeds, rock blasting will be done in the navigation channel. The Corps opened three contract bids on September 10 for additional dredging and rock removal at multiple locations within a section of the channel between Chester, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware. Dredging will be done to a depth of 47 feet, with a total estimated dredge quantity of 400,000 cubic yards. The dredged material will be placed in the Fort Mifflin Confined Disposal Facility in Pennsylvania.

Cashman Dredging of Quincy, Massachusetts, was the low bidder, at $39.2 million. The others were Great Lakes Dredging ($76.8 million) and Weeks Marine ($78.8 million). The Corps is evaluating the bids, and expect to award a contract by the end of September. All three bids came in below an independent government estimate of $86.3 million, Voigt said.

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