Mattituck inlet dredging nears

The Army Corps of Engineers is expecting to dredge Mattituck Inlet this fall
The Army Corps of Engineers is expecting to dredge Mattituck Inlet this fall

The start of the fall isn’t just the end to beach season. It’s also the beginning of a narrow window in which dredging projects can be done on the East End.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been planning to dredge Mattituck Inlet, which opens up to Long Island Sound, for several years, but funding for the project didn’t get the go-ahead until this May. This week, the federal General Services Administration released a notice to bidders for the project, which will include the removal of 90,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet, dredging it to a depth of 11 feet. The sand will be placed on the eastern side of the inlet, which has been steadily eroding due to the jetties placed on either side of the inlet by the Army Corps in 1906.

Mattituck Inlet is the only navigable inlet to the Long Island Sound on the North Fork, making it a crucial port for vessels to harbor when a storm brews on the Sound.

More information on the bidding process is available here.

The Mattituck project has been expected to cost the federal government around $3.4 million, though the bid specifications estimate it will cost between $1 million and $5 million. It was originally scheduled for 2011, but the Army Corps decided instead to do an emergency dredging the inlet to Lake Montauk, which contains the state’s largest fishing fleet and a Coast Guard station, that year, to the chagrin of North Fork residents who believed Congressman Tim Bishop, of Southampton, was favoring the South Fork. Mr. Bishop said at the time, however, that Montauk, which has a much larger commercial fleet, needed dredging more desperately than Mattituck.

The Army Corps is currently planning a much more extensive dredging of Lake Montauk, which could cost as much as $41 million and would stabilize a section of shoreline that has suffered severe erosion to the east of the Army Corps jetties there.

Mattituck’s upcoming dredging is unusual in that it is designed to not only maintain access to a navigable waterway, but also to repair damage done by the Army Corps under Section 111 of the 1968 River and Harbor Act, which requires the Army Corp to restore damage done by its projects.

The few fishermen who still use Mattituck Inlet have complained for years that they must time their passage through the inlet at high tide to avoid running aground, while property owners to the east of the inlet have faced severe erosion due to the disruption of the flow of sand along the shoreline, which is caused by the jetties.

People who live to the west of the jetty, however, have been happy to watch the sand accrete on their beach. One homeowner, Christine Rivera, has even gone so far as to sue the state to have her property line amended to include the extra sand that has built up there. New York State law grants access to the public to beaches below the mean high water mark.

This fall’s dredging also calls for contractors to move 10,000 cubic yards of sand from the western side of the inlet on Breakwater Beach, to the eroded eastern side.

Full bid specifications will be available Sept. 16 and the bids received are expected to be opened on Oct. 16. The federal government is looking for at least 50 percent of subcontractors on the job to be small businesses.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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