NEPTUNE, NJ – After facing years of setbacks and obstacles, the long-awaited dredging project at Shark River has been completed. Equipment from the project, which included removing sediment and reopening the navigation channels in the Shark River, is being removed.
“I’m pleased to report that with help of local and state partners, Shark River’s navigable channels have been restored to use,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone. “The project’s two phases have restored the full length of the navigable channels.”
“The restoration of state channels to allow safe passage for recreational and commercial traffic is critically important to maintaining our vibrant shore economy,” NJDOT Commissioner Richard T. Hammer said. “I am proud of the efforts of the NJDOT Office of Maritime Resources, working with the county and local officials, to make the Shark River safer to navigate than it has been in decades.”
The dredging project hydraulically removed almost three decades of sediment from the Shark River making it possible for vessels to travel during low tide from the eastern side of the river in Neptune Township to the main channels on the western side in Neptune City and Belmar. Approximately 9,000 feet of navigable channels have been restored.
The sediment was hydraulically dredged and then piped via a secure welded pipeline to mechanical dewatering equipment located in the Belmar Marina parking lot. The dewatered material was then trucked to the Monmouth County Reclamation Center for beneficial use as cover material on the active landfill.
“Last summer this project was suspended by the shutdown of projects funded by the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF),” said Arnone. “I participated in negotiations with the State to restart this project and I plan to keep advocating for the State to maintain and improve this valuable environmental, recreational and economic resource for all County residents.
“Efforts to dredge the Shark River were a long time in the making and I am extremely pleased that our strong coalition of State, County and local leaders effectively advocated and committed funding to the dredging project,” said Arnone. “Twenty years ago, I was a councilman in Neptune City when I began advocating for keeping the Shark River a viable waterway. I kept up the pressure as mayor and finally, as a Monmouth County Freeholder, I am seeing results. Thank you to the NJDOT, the County Freeholders, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Wall, and Belmar.”
“I am pleased to have worked to secure funding for the Shark River dredging which was long overdue,” said Congressman Chris Smith. “The FEMA reimbursement of roughly one third of the project cost made the dredging possible, and will now make for safe navigation in the state channels. As someone who grew up boating and fishing on the Shark River, I know the importance of seeing this waterway improved.”
The dredging project was bid at $7.6 million, began in December 2015 and was performed by Mobile Dredging sand Pumping Co. of Chester, Pennsylvania. County and municipal commitments were as follows: Monmouth County $1.1 million; Neptune City $100,000; Neptune Township $450,000; and Wall Township $315,000. Belmar provided in-kind service for the dewatering process at the Belmar Marina.
“This is really a beginning; it certainly could not have been accomplished without the coordination of the surrounding municipalities, County, and the State to get it off the ground,” Senator Jennifer Beck said. Going forward we must conduct regular maintenance dredging to ensure the viability of this river.”