Last week, the V.I. Port Authority detailed plans to dredge the East Gregerie Channel in Crown Bay and, on Tuesday, the authority’s board also discussed some upcoming maintenance dredging at St. Croix’s Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier.
In a recent news release, VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe announced that a joint application to the V.I. Coastal Zone Management Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was submitted by the port for 11 meters worth of dredging in the East Gregerie Channel and the north side of the Crown Bay cruise ship dock.
Dredging in the area will allow "existing and future" cruise ships to berth at the dock and help them to navigate the channel safety when entering and leaving the island, he said.
"The turning basin has been positioned to minimize the impact on the marine environment to the greatest extent possible," the release said, estimating that 193,100 cubic yards of material – 54,500 cubic yards of which is rock – will be removed during the process.
The application, according to Dowe, also includes a proposal to transport the material to St. Croix, where it can be used in construction projects. The dredged material will be stored at the rock quarry located on one of the port’s properties on St. Croix until it is dry enough to be used.
The permitting process for the project is expected to wrap up by December and Dowe said if the permit is approved, VIPA will immediately put out bids for contractors to do the work.
"Within 60 days, we should have a contract in place with a company to perform the dredging," Dowe said in the statement. "It will take an additional three months to mobilize and transport the equipment and materials needed to dredge the channel from the mainland to St. Thomas," he said.
Dredging on St. Thomas is anticipated to begin by May 2014, while the entire project should be completed between May 2015 and February 2016, depending on how difficult it is to remove the rock from the channel.
All studies and consultants needed to prepare the permits are covered in VIPA’s 2013 budget, and the authority’s board is currently looking how best to finance the actual dredging, the release said.
Meanwhile VIPA will soon be doing some maintenance dredging at the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier on St. Croix. According to officials, the Division of Coastal Zone Management under the Department of Planning and Natural Resources has asked that VIPA test the dredging material. It was said during the board’s Tuesday meeting on St. Thomas that the material has been gathered and that the authority is currently waiting on the test results.