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Oct 21, 2009 12:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Dredging project to begin at Shinnecock Inlet next month

Oct 21, 2009 12:42 PM

The Shinnecock Inlet will be dredged beginning next month, giving boaters easier passage through the oftentimes treacherous channel, U.S. Representative Tim Bishop said.

The channel will be widened and deepened, and a troublesome sandbar will be dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beginning on November 15, the congressman said. The $11.72 million project will make the inlet passable to boats during low tides, and result in calmer inlet waters.

Using heavy-duty machinery, the Army Corps is expected remove about 300,000 cubic yards of material from the channel bottom, and deposit the dredge spoils along the shoreline immediately west of the inlet. The dredge spoils will help replenish beach sands lost to erosion, Mr. Bishop said.

The project is being paid for with $8.21 million in federal money—$5 million of which is from the federal stimulus package—plus $3.51 million in funding from New York State. The congressman, who helped secure the funding, expected the project to be finished by January 15, 2010.

“It will result in increased safety and it will result in the inlet being navigable at all times,” Mr. Bishop said. “Depending on the size of your boat, you can’t get out there at high tide.”

Located about a mile east of Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays, the inlet is the site of numerous boating accidents and hazardous conditions created by a sandbar at the mouth of the inlet. To avoid the sandbar and enter or exit the inlet, boaters must make a series of turns that put them at risk of capsizing in violent weather.

The Army Corps has intermittently dredged the channel and the bar since the late 1980s, when five boats were lost and three fishermen died in a period of only a few years. The inlet was last dredged in 2004, when 302,590 cubic yards of material was removed from the channel bottom and used to replenish area beaches.

Area boaters hailed the dredging project.

Shinnecock Marlin and Tuna Club President Scott Horowitz said shallower waters in and around the inlet have posed a hardship to commercial boaters.

“I think the commercial industry has lost some of its luster out here because some of the larger boats have a tough time going in and out,” Mr. Horowitz said. “It’s been one more problem that has been put upon our commercial industry. ... It’s one more thing they have to contend with.”

Troubles navigating the inlet also are a hardship for recreational boaters.

This summer, Mr. Horowitz said the marlin and tuna club canceled portions of its popular, nine-day Hamptons Offshore Invitational Fishing Tournament due to stormy weather and poor navigational conditions in the inlet. The event, which has been running for 10 years, attracts hundreds of fishermen to the area every year.

“When you got a wind coming out of the east, that inlet can be very, very dreadful,” Mr. Horowitz said. “Probably half the tournament we had to shut down.”

Southampton Town Board of Trustees President Jon Semlear said the dredging project is essential for the safety of boaters using the inlet. Besides the possibility of boats running aground against the sandbar, Mr. Semlear said the sandbar causes turbulent waters to form in the inlet.

“It’s essential to safe passage for the commercial and recreational fleet in and out of Shinnecock Inlet,” Mr. Semlear said. “The time is right to do it. ... The trustees are fully supportive of it.”

The dredging project will also increase the flushing of water between the Shinnecock Bay and Atlantic Ocean and lead to healthier waters, Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said in an e-mail.

“Regular dredging is vital to the East End’s ecological and economic well-being,” Ms. Kabot said. “Shinnecock has the second-largest commercial fishing fleet in the state and is a source of livelihood and recreation for residents and visitors alike.”

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While I agree with the dredging project, why does it cost $11.72 million to do this? Is it because no bids are taken for a job of this nature? Does no one really care because federal stimulus funds are paying for most of it? I'm sure that this will create lots of jobs, just like the stimulus money was suppossed to do!
By Walt (292), Southampton on Oct 20, 09 7:52 PM
The dredging project is very important, however, that is a huge price tag. The inlet is treacherous. I remember having trouble navigating the inlet when I was a teenager 20+ years ago.

INS - Just curious about the "land raping legislation" that you refer to above and the statement that developer friends benefitted. Is your comment fact based or fiction?

By MikeC (1), Marblehead on Jan 17, 10 2:47 PM