Long-awaited Shallowbag Bay dredging to begin around the end of the month

After the dredging, the Elizabeth II will be able to once again navigate out of its berth at Roanoke Island Festival Park. [file photo]

The Dare County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to approve a contract and grant application for long-awaited dredging of a channel in Shallowbag Bay and Roanoke Sound off Manteo that will begin by the end of the month.

The $1.6 million project consists of maintenance dredging within Ranges 1 through 5 of the Manteo Federal Navigation Project by Salmons Dredging, Inc., with an expected completion date of Feb. 28, 2021.

According to a county news release, the project will clear out approximately 2.2 miles of channels running through Shallowbag Bay and Roanoke Sound.

In addition, a connector channel that extends approximately 290 feet from the northern terminus of Range 1 to the berth of the Elizabeth II at Roanoke Island Festival Park will also be dredged.

The state-owned representative 16th century sailing ship has been unable to leave its berth across Doughs Creek from the Manteo waterfront in more than two years.

That has delayed the ship’s annual haulout at the NCDOT Shipyard in Manns Harbor that is required to maintain the hull of the wooden vessel built in 1984.

Dredging will also reopen access to the Manteo downtown marina to luxury yachts and seasonal boaters that travel the Intracoastal Waterway, because water depths in the channel currently range from between one and five feet.

The project will eventually bring the channel’s depth to nine feet, and it will be widened to 50 feet.

[Project map courtesy Dare County]

“The Shallowbag Bay dredging project is primarily being funded by the state of North Carolina, and Dare County has agreed to manage the project due to its expertise with dredging area waterways in the past, as well as the presence of a county staff member who will serve as the project’s manager,” according to the news release.

Funding for the dredging project is being provided by a direct appropriation by the General Assembly in 2018, along with money from the state’s Shallow Draft Inlet and Inland Waterway fund and the Town of Manteo.

Residents of the Marshes Light condominium community on Fernando Street in Manteo may notice the occasional presence of earth-moving equipment that will periodically be required to consolidate the dredged material within the disposal area.

The material that is dredged from the channel will be transported via barge to an offload site located on the western edge of Shallowbag Bay, just south of the marina at the Marshes Light condominium complex.

The dredged material will then be loaded onto trucks and transported from Manteo to a designated disposal area within the Dare County Landfill located at the Manns Harbor Transfer Station.

Access to the parking lot and marina at the Marshes Light condominium complex will be maintained throughout the project.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.