The long-planned deepening and widening of the navigational channel in Montauk Harbor, which was scheduled for completion this autumn, will be delayed by a year, East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said on Tuesday.
A feasibility study completed in 2020 set new parameters for dredging the inlet to increase its depth from 12 to 17 feet. The navigation channel’s 150-foot width is to be increased by 100 feet. Immediately to its east is a 50-foot-wide sedimentary basin that is to be increased to 100 feet in width.
But the federal Army Corps of Engineers, representatives of which told the town board in March that the project could be delayed until 2024, received a condition survey that revealed around 15,000 cubic yards of hard material consisting of one to three-foot stones in the footprint of the channel and the basin, Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “This will end up postponing until next fall the dredging there,” he said, “as it will require a clamshell-bucket-type of dredge in conjunction with the scheduled hydraulic dredge, which would have removed the sand.”
The inlet to Lake Montauk is used by as many as 500 vessels per day in the summer. Lake Montauk is home to New York State’s largest commercial fishing fleet, and Coast Guard vessels travel from the Star Island base into Block Island Sound and beyond via the inlet. Town officials have spoken of lost commerce from delays in vessels getting in and out of the inlet as well as an increase in groundings in the channel.
To complete the project, an estimated 150,000 cubic yards of dredged sand is to be deposited on the shoreline west of the inlet’s west jetty, bolstering a beach that is particularly vulnerable to erosion.
The window for dredging the inlet is Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 in order to protect endangered species, an Army Corps official told the board in March.
“There’s some interest in finding out whether the town would like to take the stones dredged, if we have a use for it,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said on Tuesday, “as that would save the contractor money and might give us an opportunity to suit some purpose that we have in the area.”