LACEY – The New Jersey Department of Transportation began dredging the Forked River channels in order to ensure the safety of boaters, officials said.
The work is being done on the Forked River, Forked River Middle Branch and Spur, the South Spur, and the “Elks” channel. It is part of a $2.5 million dredging project, according to a press release from the DOT. These waterways were named in a 2014 survey called the State Channel Dredging and Emergency Response Program, which was designed to locate spots that needed to be maintained in order for people to respond to emergencies such as Superstorm Sandy.
The contractor is Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. They placed a pipeline in the channels to pump the dredge materials to an area referred to as the Oyster Creek Confined Disposal Facility.
Lacey Township Committee members had warned the public that the activity was going to go on, since the equipment would be on site 24 hours a day.
The work is expected to wrap at the end of September, the DOT reported. Unfortunately, anywhere the dredge equipment is in operation will have limited use by boaters. People who frequent the channels were warned to stay clear of the pipeline, and any equipment, whether or not the equipment is on or off. Since the channels are narrow to begin with, boaters are urged to exercise extreme caution when passing by equipment. No wake speed should be maintained. The goal is not to close any channels while the work is ongoing.
The Forked River project is just the first step in a larger project, the DOT stated. The Barnegat Bay Channels project would come next.