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This is an article from today's Virginian-Pilot.

Beach having trouble digging up firm to dredge Rudee Inlet
By DEIRDRE FERNANDES, The Virginian-Pilot
© March 20, 2007 | Last updated 11:11 PM Mar. 19

VIRGINIA BEACH - How many attempts does it take to get a private company to dredge Rudee Inlet?

Six and counting.

The Army Corps of Engineers and city officials have been struggling since 2005 to find a company that will do an intense clearing of sand around the inlet.

The Corps, which oversees the project, closed the last bidding process for the project Feb. 6. No companies had responded.

"It's a challenging little project," said Phil Roehrs, the city's coastal engineer.

"It's a relatively small project.... It involves a risk because it's an open ocean inlet," he said.

City crews and the Corps have stepped in to make sure boaters don't get stuck because of shallow waters, Roehrs said.

The city's small dredge is doing some of the underwater clearing inside the jetty and the Dredge Currituck, the Corps' machine, is coming to the Beach in the next few weeks to do the heavier work before boating season starts, Roehrs said.

Recent improvements to the jetties and weirs, along with the absence of severe weather, also have helped keep the inlet clear, Roehrs said.

But Rudee Inlet, which is notorious for clogging up quickly and trapping boaters, eventually will need an intense dredge.

"We've been getting by for a couple of years," Roehrs said. "But I feel strongly that we need an ocean-class dredge. You can't depend on luck."

Ben Cottrell V, president of Chesapeake-based Cottrell Engineering Corp., agrees that the city needs an annual deep dredge.

However, Cottrell said his company, which has cleared Rudee Inlet before, isn't willing to take the job.

"You don't want to say no to the work, but you have to look at the risk," Cottrell said. "It was a business decision to do projects that were less risky and could produce a reasonable profit."

Cottrell Engineering was awarded the last bid on the dredge work in 2004 for more than $658,000.

T he cost of fuel and the size of the project have increased in recent years and the amount the federal government is willing to pay hasn't kept up, Cottrell said.

The work now costs more than $1 million, he estimates.

After receiving complaints from Lake Wesley residents, city officials have placed limits on the storage of barges and cranes there during the month-long project, Cottrell said.

That makes it more difficult for contractors to bring their equipment to the site, Cottrell said.

The Corps and city leaders are looking for other solutions, said Gregg Williams, a project engineer with the Corps.

The city has eased some of the restrictions for Lake Wesley storage. The Corps is considering bringing in its own dredge more often and creating an offshore deposition basin.

For Virginia Beach, ensuring that Rudee Inlet remains clear is critical.

City officials have been sued over sand buildup in the inlet.

In 1996, a $1 million yacht ran aground in the inlet and broke apart.

The owner sued Virginia Beach and was awarded $335,505 in damages because a federal judge said the city should have warned the marina that the inlet hadn't been dredged in six weeks.

• Reach Deirdre Fernandes at (757) 222-5121 or [email protected].


2,497 Posts
Why not keep extending the jetties outwards until they are in a deeper water area? I would think that if you built the jetties far enough out, perhaps another half mile or so, they would have to be dredged much less. Instead of having a constant problem, why not spend a little more money and make a permanent fix? Another inlet that I can think of that had the same problem is the St. John River in Fla near Jacksonville. That jetty there seems to go on forever and the several times I have been there, it has always had deep water and never seen a dredge there. If you build a jetty thats wide and long with a narrow opening, the tides will keep the thing dredged all by themselves.

Also, the last time I came in around dark a couple weeks ago, the red marker buoy outside rudee needed a new light. It didn't work.
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