Keystone Harbor dredging contract to begin Nov. 28

Dredging work helping keep the Keystone Harbor Coupeville ferry running efficiently and refurbishing a local beach will begin Nov. 28.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday it has contracted Tacoma-based American Construction Company Inc., for $806,000 to dredge the navigation channel and ferry slip on the west side of Whidbey Island. The project may take 60 to 120 days, depending on the amount of material requiring removal to return the channel to its original 25 foot design depth.

“We anticipate dredging between 30,000 and 50,000 cubic yards of material,” said John Pell, Seattle District Navigation Section project manager, in a news release. “All material from the navigation channel will be reused for nourishment of the Fort Casey State Park beach.”

The beach nourishment protects the park from continuous shoreline erosion and maintaining the navigation project provides necessary safe navigation of Washington State Ferry System vessels docking at Keystone Harbor.

“The shallow harbor, along with cross winds and strong currents can contribute to canceled sailings,” said Marta Coursey, Washington State Ferries director of communications.

Shoaling, or sedimentation filling in the channel, requires maintenance dredging every four to six years to ensure consistent service on the Port Townsend, Coupeville run, according to John Hicks, Seattle District’s Navigation Section chief.

The harbor was last dredged in 2006 and hosts a variety of marine life. Prior to any dredging the corps prepares a biological evaluation in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Endangered Species Act, or ESA.

“Construction will occur when Puget Sound chinook, Hood Canal summer-run chum, and coastal, Puget Sound bull trout are least likely to be present in the area,” Pell said. “To satisfy ESA requirements, we work closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and Washington State Department of Ecology.”

Started in 1947, Keystone Harbor is an artificial dredged basin built by the corps in 1948. It was constructed by dredging a triangular shaped bay from an existing barrier beach, and connected to Admiralty Inlet with a navigation channel. The corps built a stone breakwater on the eastern side of the harbor that provides a harbor of refuge, a boat launch ramp and the ferry terminal.

All dredging is to be done when the ferry is not operating so no delays are expected.


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