From the beaches by the Leonardo State Marina one can just make out the silhouetted skyline of Staten Island and Brooklyn. Ocean water laps lazily against the shoreline, covering the white sand with shades of blue and green. Though only a few miles from downtown Manhattan, this part of New Jersey feels like it’s a world away.
Here and there, the remains of Hurricane Sandy still haunt the streets of Middletown, New Jersey. Buildings are without siding, glass shards penetrate the ground around a plethora of broken windows and mangled fences. Those images are not uncommon in the tri-state area. What is uncommon are images that show the damage that the superstorm inflicted below the surface.
If you were to dive down into one of these affected waterways (with some reference of how the sea-floor previously looked), you would notice a sizable difference. Mud, rock, and sediment have begun to form an underwater series of hills. You look up and notice an ocean liner has passed above you, leaving a trail of bubbles in its wake. While the hills may not represent much of a problem at the moment they could eventually disrupt transportation between New Jersey river-systems, and the Atlantic which has prompted the state Department of Transportation to bid for channel dredging projects across New Jersey.
“Our state channels are vital waterways that are used by recreational boaters and commercial fisherman,” NJ DOT Commissioner James S. Simpson said. “Providing safe navigation channels will have a positive economic impact on small businesses such as marinas, bait and tackle shops and charter companies, as well as New Jersey’s seafood industry.”
Projects are currently scheduled for Monmouth, Ocean, Cape May and Atlantic counties. The dredging of the Waackaack and Thorns Creeks in Keansburg in Monmouth County began fielding bids in mid-March. Yet, the actual removal of sediment will not begin until June.
“Typically the state would not dredge in the summer, but the new program features and aggressive schedule to maximize efforts during periods of favorable dredging conditions to alleviate hazards to boaters and commercial vessels,” according to a NJ DOT press release. “Efforts will be made to ensure work does not unnecessarily impede navigation.
With sediment rising and boating season about to hit a peak, the state has quite a lot on their plate in order to ensure the safety of New Jersey residents. Nearly a year and a half later, communities are still recovering from the most devastating storm the tri-state area has seen in recent memory. But through all the hardships, the people who reside in this region have met adversity with no small amount of courage and resilience. As they rebuild, we will do what we can to help them, one new dredge, business, or home at a time.