The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $15-million contract to dredge the Fire Island Inlet and replenish nearby beaches with the sand, U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Wednesday.
The contract for $15,258,000 was awarded to Norfolk Dredging Co., of Virginia, for "emergency dredging and beach nourishment for the Fire Island Inlet and Shore Westerly to Jones Inlet," according to the solicitation notice.
In the spring, Norfolk Dredging dredged 790,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet to rebuild about five miles of dunes ravaged by superstorm Sandy along Ocean Parkway as part of a $33.2 million project to fix the roadway and its dunes.
"We expect to commence dredging just after Labor Day with the same dredge . . . and crew that worked on the Ocean Parkway project a few months ago," said Michael Haverty, executive vice president of Norfolk Dredging, by email Wednesday. He said he expects the project to take about six months.
The more than 1 million cubic yards of sand dredged from the inlet will help nourish the Sandy-damaged Gilgo Beach, according to a news release. Sand from the dredging will also help replenish the Town of Oyster Bay's Tobay Beach, as well as Cedar Beach and Overlook Beach in Babylon.
"Today's news means that work on this much-needed emergency project will soon be underway, allowing commuters and fishermen who rely on a passable Fire Island Inlet to better utilize this major artery," Schumer said in a statement.
The Fire Island Inlet, which is the only major artery connecting the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, has been clogged with sand to the extent that in September 2012, the Coast Guard warned commercial fishermen and other boaters to use an alternative route. The Coast Guard advisory said the depth of water in the inlet was as low as 4 feet at high tide and less than a foot at low tide.
According to Schumer's office, Gilgo Beach is to receive 1.2 million cubic yards of sand, Tobay Beach, 225,000 cubic yards and Cedar and Overlook beaches, 50,000 cubic yards as a result of the project, the release states.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said in a statement that the dredging and subsequent sand replenishment "will go a long way towards strengthening our barrier beach" after the devastating erosion suffered in Sandy.