NEW HAVEN — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to sample silted areas of New Haven Harbor this summer in a run-up to maintenance dredging there in 2010 at the earliest.
Local and state officials hope the corps also takes samples of material along the west side of the harbor parallel to Long Wharf Drive and at the entrance and north up the West River channel.
Charles Beck of the Connecticut Maritime Commission and Judi Sheiffele, executive director of the New Haven Port Authority, said boats will need a place to go when construction of the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge will close access to the Quinnipiac and Mill rivers at least three times.
“We’ll try to get as much done as possible,” Beck said of stretching the $400,000 in place for the sampling exercise.
The nature of the material engineers find in the sampling — whether it is contaminated — will determine where the dredged silt can be disposed of and at what cost.
Sheiffele said the corps would have to weigh the cost of an anchorage on the west side of the harbor with the benefits, which would open the area to recreational and commercial uses.
Beck said the corps must maintain federally regulated channels to their proper depth, which in New Haven is 35 feet.
Separately, Senate and House resolutions have been entered calling for a study of potential federal navigation improvements to New Haven Harbor by deepening the main ship channel and maneuvering the basin below 35 feet to accommodate larger vessels.
No funding, however, has been appropriated for such a study.
The port authority also heard a report at its recent meeting that the Army Corps of Engineers will get $4.9 billion in federal stimulus money, but it hasn’t gotten direction on how it can be used.
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor