Boats carrying tons of sand, salt, and steel will continue to sail into New Haven Harbor, now that the Army Corps of Engineers has moved tons of sediment out of it.
The Army Corps is nearly done dredging shipping channels in the inner harbor. The process ensures that the port is at least 35 feet deep, so that ships can arrive and depart safely.
Local and regional officials gathered Friday afternoon at Lenny and Joe’s Restaurant on Long Wharf Drive to celebrate the impending completion, which involves the removal of 800,000 cubic yards of sand and silt from the harbor floor.
Judi Sheiffele, head of the New Haven Port Authority, hailed U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro for helping to secure the federal money to fund the project.
The New Haven dredging project cost about $5.7 million, part of a $8.6 million dredging project that included Norwalk.
After finishing Norwalk’s harbor, three dredges (one pictured above) have been working in New Haven Harbor since Dec. 27. A fourth, larger dredge was also involved, but recently left for a different job.
The dredges are scheduled to complete the inner harbor by the middle of February. They’ll then start work on the outer harbor, which will be done by the end of April.
“I really am very, very proud,” said DeLauro (pictured). New Haven has the busiest port between Boston and New York, she said. It’s an “integral part of the regional economy.”
The harbor was “degraded” by storms Irene and Sandy, DeLauro said. Without the dredging, boats wouldn’t have been able to use the harbor, she said.
“This is a critical part of our infrastructure,” DeLauro said. “Without it we can’t grow.”
If ships can’t come to New Haven, they’ll go elsewhere, said Orest “Tom” Dubno, a consultant for Gateway Terminal, which is the only dry cargo shipper in New Haven, he said.
Gateway has six tug boats that have been helping with the dredging work, Dubno said.
The dredges comprise a barge with a massive bucket on a crane. The barge drops “spuds” or stanchions, to hold it in place, then repeatedly lowers the bucket to haul up sediment, which is deposited on a scow, a flat-bottomed boat.
Scows with 5,000 cubic yards of sand and silt are hauled out by tugs. The sediment is dumped into holes in the ocean floor called “cells.”