NEWBURYPORT — Dredging the Newburyport harbor has begun to maintain the required depths for the Merrimack River channel and replenish sand on Plum Island.
H&L Contracting of Long Island, NY will perform the dredging under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The project will dredge approximately 226,000 cubic yards of material from the two entrance channels at the mouth of the river. Dredging operations began the week of October 3rd and will conclude by March 31, 2023.
The sand will be placed north of the jetty to replace sand that has eroded along Reservation Terrace. The erosion is attributed largely to the South Jetty reconstruction undertaken by the USACE several years ago.
Two dredges will be on site, the 20-inch dredge Oyster Bay and the 16-inch dredge Finn. There will also be a booster pump barge inside the harbor alongside the channel plus support vessels working within the harbor. A dredge pipe will run to the area designated for placement of the dredged material on Plum Island. This dredge pipe will be submerged for channel crossing and marked and lighted in accordance with USCG regulations when not submerged.
The U.S. Coast Guard has published a notice to Mariners. All mariners are requested to steer clear of dredging equipment to the safest extent possible and to proceed at the minimum speed necessary to make way.
The channel will be open at all times, but restricted. Mariners are requested to contact the dredge via VHF Channel 16 to coordinate passage.
The eastern portion of the parking lot for Plum Island Beach and the Jason Sawyer Playground will remain open, but the western portion will be used as a staging area. The work areas, access ways from the parking lot to the beach and placement area at Plum Island Beach will be closed to the public for the duration of the work.
The dredging project will operate around the clock with equipment, lights, noise and potentially hazardous conditions along the impacted beaches.
For more information and continued updates, visit www.cityofnewburyport.com/planning-development/harbor-dredging-project
Any questions or requests for information regarding the work should be directed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District.