Representatives spent the day in eastern North Carolina to discuss issues on dredging and how they will continue to keep up with maintenance on the Morehead City Port.
Dredging is underway for the Ocean Bar Channel. It’s an almost $8 million project that will benefit the Morehead City Port.
The meeting with Corps of Engineers and state, county, federal, and local representatives discussed how they will keep up with the maintenance of dredging with little federal funds.
Currently, the Ocean Bar’s controlling depth is 33 feet, when it’s supposed to be around 42 feet.
“We don’t have persistent and consistent funding cycles coming in to help with the likes of Morehead City,” explained Colonel Kevin Landers Sr., Corps of Engineers. “At some point, there’s a diminishing return where you’re going to find yourself with more shoaling than we have dollars to address that shoaling.”
Landers says they need a proactive approach.
It’s just something that we have to address and, as soon as you fix today’s problem, it’s all well and good and you can pat yourself on the back for about 30 seconds, but now we got to start charging and worrying about tomorrow’s problem as well,” said Landers. “It’s a dynamic system and a dynamic problem set that we are always constantly having to work through.”
The reason for the dredging is that too much sand builds up in the channel, making it difficult for boats to navigate. Commercial users are losing millions of dollars when they are light loaded.
“I think it’s very important, because that means some of the larger ships are going to be able to come in and we can address the drafting needs for those larger ships,” explained General David Turner, Commander, South Atlantic Division. “So it’s very important.”
Turner says it’s a team effort to make the port the most effective.
“Morehead City is ranked 88th,” said Turner. “Look at the top 100 ports in the United States. So I think it’s important, but I think it’s really good that we are all working together, communicating, dialoging and working towards common goals and solutions.”
Landers says everyone working together will help find a solution.
“The governor has his agenda, the port director has his agenda, and were wanting to be one of the team, teammates that helps with all those noteworthy agendas and move forward,” said Landers.
The Ocean Bar dredging is scheduled to be completed by August 1st. There are two other dredging projects in the making.