Preparation for the dredging of the East Gregerie Channel in Crown Bay, St. Thomas, began last week, according to a press release from the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA).
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers approved the dredging permit on Feb. 23, which allows VIPA to dredge the channel and a section along the northern side of the Austin “Babe” Monsanto Marine Terminal cruise ship pier in order to provide safer berthing conditions for large cruise vessels.
VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe said that the authority has hired Bio Impact Inc. to perform the mitigation requirement of the permit. This involves the relocation of plants, coral and other marine life in the areas to be dredged in the channel and along the cruise ship pier in Crown Bay. The process should take about three weeks, he said.
In addition to the sea life mitigation, VIPA has hired Orion Marine Construction Inc. to perform the dredging. Dowe said that they are currently preparing the curtains that will contain the dredged material and minimize the sound of the dredge machine, which is also a requirement of the permit.
The project will cost about $2.5 million, and it is funded via bond financing secured by VIPA last year. Dredging should be completed by September 2015.