The possibility that the Montauk Harbor Inlet will get an emergency dredging this year moved toward a probability on Tuesday when Representative Timothy Bishop announced that $1,152,228 had been secured by the Army Corps of Engineers to help pay for the work.
The digging could begin in September or October of this year, Mr. Bishop said yesterday.
There is no question that a sand flat that has been growing from the east jetty of the inlet toward the center of the heavily used harbor mouth needs to be removed. Over the winter, the larger boats in Montauk’s commercial fishing fleet were forced to wait as long as seven hours for a tide high enough to carry them past the shoal.
Repeated incident reports to the Montauk Coast Guard station coincided with a lawsuit brought by residents of Montauk’s Soundview community, where houses were threatened by severe erosion. The two issues are related by the fact that east-to-west storm-driven currents both feed sand into the harbor inlet and erode beaches to the west of the inlet jetties. A separate Army Corps study aims at correcting the chronic erosion and related shoaling.
In February, Representative Bishop, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Councilwoman Julia Prince, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., representatives of the Army Corps, and Rear Admiral Daniel A. Neptun, commander of the Coast Guard’s First District in Boston, were given a first-hand look at the shoal by members of the Montauk Coast Guard station.
“We started getting calls from the Coast Guard station to let us know the extent of the shoaling. We had the Corps there that day, and that began the process. We’re in an earmark-free environment,” Mr. Bishop said, referring to budgetary rules that limit the number of pet projects legislators can include in budget requests.
“So, a primary tool was taken away from me. I got on the career staff of the Corps about the severity of the issue, and went to work with the senior leadership of the Coast Guard,” Mr. Bishop said.
The dredge money, he said, was coming from the operational and maintenance budget of the Army Corps, an internal allocation. “The next step is the bidding and scheduling, but we’re all on the same page. They recognize it as an