Port clears major hurdle to dredging

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 09:45 AM.

Pitts reiterated an aggressive timeline mapped out earlier by Perry when the outcome on Section 408 was an unknown.

The hope is to have an application to state and federal agencies within four to six months with a permit in hand by spring.

With the hope of funding for dredging coming in this coming legislative session – the estimated cost is at least $20 million – Pitts said the dredging could be completed by the end of 2014.

“That is an aggressive goal,” Pitts said. “There are too many unknowns to peg our hopes to that schedule.”

Depending on weather, work began this week on assessing materials and any potential contaminants along the floor of the shipping channel, Pitts said.

An assessment of the volume of the materials that will need to be dredged is underway as is a sediment survey, a time-consuming process that involves engineers taking bore samples at as many as 67 GPS identified locations in the ship channel and turning basin.

Potential disposal sites, including the old paper mill site, upland areas owned by St. Joe are being identified, Pitts said, as well as potential locations along St. Joseph Peninsula where any appropriate sandy material would be used for beach nourishment.

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