Freight News, Sea

Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration receives $37.5m

[ January 28, 2022   //   ]

The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) project to use dredged material to restore a pair of vanishing islands off the coast of Dorchester County received a major boost the week of January 17 with allocation of $37.5 million in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Supplemental FY 2022 Workplan.
The funding guarantees construction of the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration project, which will restore island habitat at James and Barren islands and help protect the Dorchester County shoreline from erosion, will begin in September 2022. The island sites will eventually replace Poplar Island in Talbot County as the state’s primary receiving site for bay channel dredged sediment.
The water resources investment is a part of $14 billion released to the USACE Wednesday, largely stemming from supplemental funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act intended to fund civil works studies and projects. The workplan also includes $2.1 million for dredging and surveys at Herring Bay and Rockhold Creek in Anne Arundel County; $2.4 million for dredging and surveys for Northeast River in Cecil County; and $50,000 for engineer surveys for Slaughter Creek in Dorchester County.
The Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island project will restore remote island habitat around two rapidly eroding barrier islands – James and Barren – creating new wildlife habitat and providing much-needed shoreline protection for Dorchester County.
The larger of the two, James Island, will have 2,072 acres restored, with 55% preserved as wetlands habitat and 45% as upland habitat. At Barren Island, 72 acres will be restored as wetlands and the project will also include the installation of breakwaters to protect island remnants and adjacent seagrass beds.
“The use of dredged material to rebuild islands and create wildlife habitat shows that our team at the Port is focused not only on growing Maryland’s economy, but also maintaining an outstanding level of environmental stewardship,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “The Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration is the latest example of our tremendous partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At James and Barren islands, this project will encourage wildlife, protect shorelines and restore a piece of the Chesapeake Bay’s natural beauty.”
Restoration around Barren Island will commence first – with construction beginning in September based on the USACE allocation. James Island construction is anticipated in 2024. Barren will accept sediment from nearby shallow-draft channels. James Island will accommodate an estimated 90 million to 95 million cubic yards of dredged sediment, providing at least 30 years of capacity. USACE will turn the project over to the state when the habitat development is complete.