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Federal dredging help to come for Hatteras and Oregon inlets

Hatteras and Oregon inlets will receive federal dredging help this month.

At the Dare County Waterways Commission on Monday night and the Oregon Inlet Task Force meeting Tuesday morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the dredge Merritt will return from Rudee Inlet to Oregon Inlet and to Hatteras Inlet.

The Merritt will work at the Oregon Inlet bar around July 18 and 19 for two to four days.

Around July 23, the Merritt will be set up to dredge the shoal in the South Ferry Channel in Hatteras Inlet.

Steve “Creature” Coulter, chairman of the Dare County Waterways Commission, said “we’ve been trying since fall . . . to get it taken care of.” He commented at low tides boats are hitting bottom. He said the U.S. Coast Guard cannot go through the inlet in its 47-foot boat.

This July dredging in Hatteras Inlet is timed to take advantage of high tides in order to comply with permit conditions requiring dredging at ebb tide.

Brent Johnson, Dare County project manager and staff for the Task Force and Commission, reported that the daily cost for the Merritt was reduced from $27,000 to $22,000, which stretches available money.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Team will install two new buoys in Barney Slough, the route between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. The U.S. Coast Guard has published an advanced notice about installing four new buoys to mark the Oregon Inlet cut or “the crack.” One will be a lighted buoy.

At the Oregon Inlet Task Force, the members began looking long-term and how the new dredge might make the inlet stable. For example, can Dare County dredge a channel to a different depth? The federal permitted channel is authorized at 20 feet. Harry Schiffman, a task force member, espoused the goal of bringing trawlers back in Wanchese with a deeper, more stable channel.

After a closed door meeting, the Oregon Inlet Task Force approved the contract to build the public-private dredge pending any changes from the Dare County attorney. The contract will be between Conrad Shipyard LLC and EJE Dredging.

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