US Army Corps of Engineers
New England District

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District begins dredging of Plymouth Harbor Federal Navigation Project

USACE, New England District
Published March 8, 2019
Plymouth Harbor federal navigation project

Dredging to remove shoals from the Plymouth Harbor federal navigation project is underway.

Vessels wanting to enter Plymouth waters, as dredging to remove shoals from the Plymouth Harbor federal navigation project in Massachusetts is currently underway and on schedule.

The New England District and its contractor, Burnham Associates, of Salem, Massachusetts, are performing maintenance dredging on the nearly 400-year-old harbor to restore it to its authorized dimensions. 

“Natural shoaling processes have reduced available depths to as little as 7 feet in the 18-foot main channel, 7 feet in the 15-foot channel and 4 feet in the 8-foot anchorage, making navigation hazardous at lower stages of the tide,” said New England District Project Manager Michael Walsh.

Plymouth Harbor is located in Plymouth Bay, about 18 miles north of the Cape Cod Canal. It is partially protected by Long Beach, a 3.6-mile long spit that extends along the harbor’s east side, giving Plymouth Harbor a V-shaped form. Plymouth’s place in history annually attracts hundreds of recreational and transient boaters to the harbor, which is also a popular center for charter excursion and sport fishing boats.

New England District partially dredged the navigation project in 1988.  The last full dredge took place in 1967. 

Approximately 385,000 cubic yards of material will be dredged from approximately 75 acres of authorized project area and will restore the project to its authorized dimensions.  Burnham Associates successfully bid for the $9.3 million project.  Cashman Dredging of Quincy, Massachusetts and AGM Marine Contractors, Inc., of Mashpee, Massachusetts are the subcontractors for the project.  The town of Plymouth is the local sponsor. 

According to Walsh, approximately 41,000 cubic yards of the material being dredged is fine sand and will be used for a feeder berm in the nearshore of  Green Harbor Beach. 

“We always try to find a beneficial use for the dredged sand on our dredging projects,” Walsh explained.  “Green Harbor was an approved nearshore site and favored by the Commonwealth.”

The rest of the material is slated for open water disposal at the Cape Cod Bay Disposal site and the Massachusetts Bay Disposal site.   So far, the contractor has dredged approximately 236,000 yards of material from the 15-foot areas, which have been cleared to their required depths. Work is currently being performed in the anchorage and will continue until Jan. 31, 2019.

Work began on Oct. 30, 2018 and the contractor is expected to work until the environmental window closes on Jan. 31, 2019.  Walsh says the project is moving along as planned.  “We expected that the work would go over two seasons,” said Walsh.  “The contractor is doing a great job.”

Work will resume when the environmental window reopens on Oct. 1, 2019.  The project is expected to be completed by the end of November, in plenty of time for Plymouth’s 400-year anniversary celebration planned by the town.