FORT PIERCE — The city marina channel entrance dredging and barrier islands filling operation along the downtown waterfront are proceeding on schedule and within budget, a city official said.
The project, which began last March, is about 70 percent complete, while filling operations at Tern Island and smaller free-form barrier islands may be about 90 percent finished. Tern Island is the largest of the 12 barrier islands being created.
"We are looking for substantial completion at the end of May," project coordinator Edward Seissiger told city commissioners at a March 18 meeting.
The dredging and filling is part of an $18.8 million Stormwater Waterfront Protection Project, funded by the Florida Emergency Management Agency's Mitigation Project. Funding was approved after the 2004 hurricanes, which caused substantial damage to the marina.
This is the first dredging of the marina channel entrance since 2005. Dredging has brought the mean low water level to about 8 feet, from lower than 5 feet at one time. Deeper water will allow the marina to accept larger vessels.
The channel typically requires dredging every 18 months, but a new channel, just north of the old channel one, was designed based on surveys. The channel will require less dredging, which will be beneficial to the environment, and also reduce maintenance costs for the marina.
Some 8,000 cubic yards of sand and material from the dredging has been used to replenish Tern Island. The enhancements along the Indian River Lagoon will help protect the marina from future storm or hurricane damage as well as improve the habitat for sea life and birds.
City officials believe the enhancements in and along the lagoon should also help increase tourism and improve economic activity downtown.