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Some recent extra-low tides have graphically exposed the need for dredging of the back-bay areas of Avalon. The most recent dredging project was undertaken in 2000. With years of the ebb and flow of tides, the need for dredging has returned.

On the recommendation of Avalon Borough engineer Thomas Thornton, of Hatch Mott MacDonald (HMM), the following areas have been identified as  needing dredging: Porpoise Lagoon; Avalon Canal between 30th Street and Porpoise Lagoon; Oler Thorofare; Gravens Thorofare; the 54th Street Marina; and portions of Cornell/Princeton/Pennsylvania harbors (and Avalon Canal in these areas).

Thornton told the Seven Mile Times that the dredging project will be accomplished in two stages. Stage One is to empty the Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) on Macchias Island, which contains the materials from the 2000 dredge. This CDF is precisely the reason that the dredging of the bay areas has not occurred before now. “The permitting process takes a long time,” Thornton said. “But we expect to receive permits for the CDF emptying by the end of summer. The goal is to have the project advertised for bids in late summer in order to allow the start of the project as early as September.” This is a best-case scenario.

“It will likely take up to one year to complete the project, which will include constructing a temporary road from Avalon Boulevard to the CDF for the offloading of the material via trucks,” Thornton said. “This material must then be transported to an Acceptable Used Determination for deposit. Since this material is composed of sand and clay, the material is completely unsuitable for beach replenishment.”

The CDF is currently housing 156,000 cubic yards of material that needs to be emptied. The temporary road will be removed, probably in the fall of 2014, at which time the wetlands will be restored.

“Once the CDF is emptied, the plan is to immediately award, or better yet, to have already awarded, a contract for the dredging of the waterways,” Thornton said. “The plan is to begin dredging in the fall of 2014 and to complete the project prior to summer of 2015.”

Thornton was careful to point out that, despite the heavy reliance by authorities on the dredging proposal being presented by the engineers at HMM, the Avalon Borough Council will make the final determinations as to how and where the dredging will begin and on what route the project will proceed to completion.

Another highlight of the project is that Avalon Borough Council and HMM acquired permitting of the project to include the bay up to bulkhead.  This does not mean that private homeowners will have their boat slips automatically dredged as a part of the project. It does permit homeowners to “piggyback” on the permits granted to Avalon Borough. “If homeowners wish to privately contract with the dredging company selected through competitive bidding, or for that matter a dredging firm of their own selection, they may,” Thornton said. “The advantage to homeowners is that they avoid the costly and time-consuming process of acquiring permits from the [Department of Environmental Protection] and the Army Corps of Engineers.”

The hydrographic study completed by HMM identified in the affected areas a channel width of 100 feet with an extending side slip of approximately 3:1. The amount of sediment to be dredged is approximately 80,000 cubic yards. “These estimates come from a recent dredge in 2008 from the intercoastal waterway to 54th Street and are not final, it’s an estimate,” Thornton said.

According to Avalon Borough CFO Jim Craft, the total estimated cost of the project will be $4.77 million: The removal of CDF on Macchias Island will cost $3.12 million and the dredging will cost $1.65 million.

“We, and council on March 27 of this year, passed a bond ordinance authorizing the project,” Craft said. “Even though we only have to provide 5 percent of the project cost, we posted 10 percent, or $475,000, of borough funds to back the project. A Bond Anticipation Note is ready to move forward with a maturity of one year, which is typical, and followed with permanent financing in the form of a bond which will bear interest at or slightly above our prior bond issue and that will have an aggregate life of about 13 years.” He added, “The project will be funded as it proceeds. Funding won’t begin until the project starts.”


Scotty Macom is an attorney, author, screenwriter and radio talent on WOND Radio1400AM and a graduate of Villanova University.