In the works for 11 years, canal dredging is finally done

By on March 6, 2014


Dredging started in 2005. (Town of Southern Shores)

Eleven years after planning started, an effort to dredge 7.5 miles of canals in Southern Shores is finally finished, Town Manager Peter Rascoe said Wednesday.

The second of two phases was completed Feb. 23 by contractor Salmons Dredging Inc. of Virginia Beach, Rascoe said in a statement.

Canals have been dredged to depths of 4 to 5 feet and are navigable by vessels from adjacent homesites or the Currituck Sound.

Unlike coastal canals subject to salt water and lunar tides, the canals in Southern Shores were not filled with migrating sand but with organic material accumulated over the years from the surrounding maritime forest. Some sand from shorelines of adjacent properties had also shifted into the canals.

“This was the largest single infrastructure improvement project ever undertaken by our Town,” said Mayor Tom Bennett, who led the project before his election. “The project’s successful completion is a credit to the citizens who worked with town staff to make it possible. It only adds to the attractiveness of the Town of Southern Shores as a place to live and visit.”

As early as 1991, the Town Council began to discuss the decreasing depths of canals dug by the original private developer between 1956 and 1976. Ownership was subsequently conveyed by the developer to homeowner associations.

In 2003, the Town Council began discussions about how to acquire and dredge the canals and dispose of the spoil. In 2005, the town obtained title to the canal bottoms and preparations for dredging began.

With money from the general fund and a grant from the state Division of Water Resources, dredging on the first 2.5 miles of canals began in late 2009 using the hydraulic method, which was mandated by a state permit.

Delays early in the project revolved around negotiations to find land for settlement basins to treat water from the canals. After the town cleared that hurdle, dredging got under way.

But the project was brought to a halt early in 2010 because the company hired to do the work was unable to extract fine particles from the water before putting it back into the canals and was found in default.

A new company took over and the first phase was finished in 2011.

In 2013, work started on the remaining 5.0 miles using a mechanical dredging method allowed by an amended permit.

“Salmons Dredging, Inc. performed very professionally and non-stop in accordance with the terms of both the contract and the existing permit during the latest phase” Rascoe said.

A loan amortized over seven years paid for the second phase. Both phases cost the town $3,465,377.00.

“Over 50,000 cubic yards of material was removed from the canals and incoming channel during the entire dredging project,” said the town’s consulting engineer and dredging project manager Joe Anlauf.

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