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Work is progressing steadily on the Wilmington Harbor Inner Ocean Bar Contract

Published July 18, 2018

   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District is responsible for maintaining the existing federal navigation channels into Wilmington Harbor to ensure operational access by both commercial and recreational vessels to port facilities.  Each year, the Wilmington District manages a number of dredging contracts that remove material from the navigation channel, and handles that dredged material in a safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible manner that is coordinated with local stakeholders, resource agencies, and our customers at the North Carolina State Ports Authority.  

   “Dredging at the Wilmington Harbor Inner Ocean Bar usually occurs every two to three years, with beach-compatible material placed alternately on either Oak Island or Bald Head Island within the approved environmental window between November 16 and April 30,” said Project Manager Pamela Castens.  “This past year, no bids were received from the initial attempt to award the contract in November of 2017.  In order to keep the navigation channel open and functioning for ship traffic, we considered all options available to us and determined that we needed to re-issue the contract solicitation a second time for work outside the environmental window in order to find dredges available to do the work.”

   The work this summer is intended as a one-time event that was necessary due to the funding situation this past year and a lack of bidders when the job was first advertised. Castens said, monitoring of sea turtle activity and relocation of turtle nests was initiated on May 1, at the beginning of nesting season to ensure that no nests are directly impacted by sand placement operations.  In addition, the contractor avoided the active bird nesting areas on the tip of the island near Fort Caswell. 

   “We’ve been closely monitoring environmental impacts, and the work was coordinated with the appropriate state and federal environmental agencies to avoid or minimize environmental impacts that were included in the contract requirements,” Castens explained. “We continue to work closely with the agencies and the towns of Caswell Beach and Oak Island to update them on the status of work and coordinate ongoing requirements as work progresses.”

   The project is expected to be completed by mid-summer.