Congressman Chris Smith has welcomed the federal government decision to allocate $28 million for dredging of the New Jersey waterways, including Shark River, which were filled with silt and debris as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
As announced earlier yesterday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved $28M in federal funding to dredge State channels that were impacted by the Sandy.
“I am pleased that this funding will pay to dredge numerous waterways, including helping to fund dredging of Shark River’s state channel, which is in desperate need of dredging because the shallow depth makes the channel non-navigable and unsafe during all but a few hours during high tide,” Smith said.
“This has had a negative impact on marine navigation, the local economy and environment. Vessels have become grounded and damaged as a result. Sandy worsened navigation significantly, and I believe this FEMA funding is appropriate to help make the channel safer. This project is critical for the public good and FEMA did the right thing in reversing course,” added Smith.
Last year, Smith met with local boat owners to see the effects of Sandy on these waterways firsthand and has since worked to advance the project by coordinating with state, county and local officials, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE).
Smith recently wrote a letter to the head of FEMA Regional II in New York, asking Administrator Jerome Hatfield to review the application denial that had been issued and fund the important dredging projects:
“The USACE has performed dredging on different portions of the federal channel in Shark River multiple times since Sandy. The state-maintained channels, however, have not been dredged, but are scheduled to be cleared following the receipt of federal support through the FEMA process,” Smith wrote.
“I respectfully request that you and your staff carefully review the updated and superior data incorporated into the [NJDEP] appeal and use whatever discretion may be appropriate and proper to assist the State of New Jersey with these important dredging projects.”
FEMA agreed to provide $28 million to fund $31.1 million in dredging of NJ waterways. The balance of 10 percent will be provided by the State of New Jersey.