Approximately 80,000 cubic yards of silt and sand is being removed from two 60-foot wide federal channels, Big Thorofare and Twitch Cove in Maryland. Vortex Marine Construction Inc. of California was awarded a $3.1 contract for the maintenance dredging project, which will bring the channels to an authorized depth of 7-feet mean lower low water with 2 feet of overdepth. The channels will be realigned with the authorized channel to be extended about 425 feet northwestward bringing the total length of the federal channel to 1,900 feet.
Material from the dredging will be beneficially reused to restore dune habitat and create marsh habitat on part of the Martin National Wildlife Refuge on Smith Island.
In addition, work also includes the construction of two jetties and the creation of a stone sill along the shoreline to prevent shoaling in the channel thereby reducing the need for dredging. The jetties will be approximately 1,150 feet and 650 feet long with both having a width of about 50 feet. The 850-foot long stone sill will be 30 feet wide and built to an elevation of 3 feet Mean Lower Low Water. Coastal Design & Construction Inc. of Gloucester, Virginia, began sill excavation November 30.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District, in coordination with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Somerset County, contracted for this project to give boaters from Smith Island more direct access to the Chesapeake Bay, in turn boosting the economy of this small island population. Smith Island supports a fleet of commercial fishing vessels and its residents rely on water transportation for the delivery of critical supplies and for access to schools.
The full Rhodes Point project will cost $6.88 million. Work began in January and is slated for completion in late spring 2019. Dredging should be finished in spring 2018.