The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District and Cottrell Contracting Corp. last Sunday (July 21) started the three-year, $30 million James River dredging project.
As reported, USACE and Cottrell are now dredging the 7.6-mile Dancing Point-Swann Point channel.
It’s part of a three-year, $30 million Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract awarded in March to the Chesapeake-based company.
According to the district officials, continuous dredging will occur at various James River points until Feb. 15, when work must stop to allow for spawning fish.
Other locations to be dredged within this initial environmental window are: Jordan Point to Harrison Bar to Windmill Point (8.6 miles), Richmond Deepwater Terminal channel (1.1 miles), the Richmond Deepwater Terminal to Hopewell channel (16.1 miles) and ending back at Dancing Point-Swann Point channel.
“It’s very ambitious, but this is the first time in many years we’ve had the funding to do this magnitude of work,” said Victor Roberts, the Norfolk District project manager.
“We’ve averaged $4.8 million a year in dredging on the James River over the last decade. That’s enough to do removal of critical shoaling, but funding shortages have prevented all we want to accomplish. We’re trying to remove the draft restrictions. It may take a few years of this level of work to remove all draft restrictions.”
He also added that the district will issue a series of task orders through March 2022 under the parent Single Award Task Order Contract. They’ll add up to about $10 million per year.
“There are places in the James River that have shoaled substantially and shoal very quickly,” he added. “This IDIQ contract allows us to target those problem areas as needed over the next three years.”
The James River is authorized to a maintained depth of 25 feet. In the work slated to run until mid-February, Cottrell will dredge to 26 feet with a foot of allowable overdepth, which extends the period between dredging cycles.
Roberts said that dredged material from the Dancing Point-Swann Point and Jordan Point-Harrison Bar-Windmill Point areas will be transported by hydraulic pipeline with overboard placement.
Norfolk District awarded a $261,000 contract to Hana Engineers & Consultants LLC, a Richmond-based minority-owned small business, which will collect and analyze sediment and water samples to determine dredged-material suitability at the Upper James placement sites. Sampling took place last week.
The James River is the longest in Virginia and up to 5 miles wide at certain points. It’s lined with sweeping curves and affected by currents, wind and tides – which make draft restrictions necessary as it’s difficult for boat pilots to maneuver.