BRANFORD — The Stony Creek dredging project has been completed, moving about 4,000 cubic yards of mud 6 nautical miles away to an Army Corps of Engineers site off West Haven.
The project includes dredging town-owned facilities, comprising of the town dock, the commercial float area and the area directly in front of the boat launch, explained Town Engineer Janice Plaziak.
“We were too silted-in, in that area, for the adequate clearance under boats, particularly in the low tide cycle,” Plaziak said.
The town has been working on this project for a couple years, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the harbor’s channel and the turning basin.
“We were trying to do it in conjunction with the federal channel, but Army Corps wasn’t ready with permits and they also weren’t in a position with funding for their project yet,” Plaziak said.
Funding for the $366,000 project is a result of Branford's request to reallocate a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant originally slated for restrooms in Bayview Park.
“It’s called maintenance dredging,” said project manager Justin Roulston, from Winthrop, Mass., Patriot Marine, LLC. “It’s bringing the level back to where it was originally before all these different things came into it.
“From the tides, from the tributaries that feed and come down to that area. …runoff,” he added. “Mud and silt come in and get moved around with the tides then settle in some areas more than others, normally,” he said.
The project was right on schedule, taking 16 days in January. While Roulston said the job was “fairly routine,” they did encounter some issues.
“There were difficulties because we were only doing fairly shallow depths in one of the areas,” he said. “We were only digging up to five feet below low water, so with our equipment we had to really work the tides, which we do in most of these jobs. It was just a little bit of a challenge with the depths of the water.”
Plaziak said the town achieved their goal and while they hope to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, soon, to get the channel and turning basin dredged, the only part of this project left is to reinstall the pilings and docks, sometime in March.
“It’s important for, obviously, the people who use the docks,” said Plaziak.
“We have over 100 islands off of the shore there that rely on access off of that dock and the tour boats and the ferries and even the commercial uses down there are important,” she added, “as well as the fire boat is tied up down there and they need to have adequate water to be able to function.”