Gulf of Mexico
City of Destin, Florida

Without Corps, dredging may cost $1.5 million more

SHALIMAR — By the end of this week, Okaloosa County officials hope to find a dredge that can perform the county’s East Pass dredging/beach restoration work, possibly within the “100 days of summer” from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“We’re still contacting dredging companies to see if they have any equipment that could be allocated to dredge the East Pass,” Greg Kisela, deputy county administrator for operations, said on Monday. “We have some feelers out but nothing specific.”

County officials were forced to take this likely much-more-expensive route after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week said that the dredge it had planned to send to Destin would instead go north to re-open the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

“The Tenn-Tom in the northern Mississippi section has experienced unusually high shoaling due the excessive amounts of rain” in recent weeks and “is completely blocked in one spot,” Corps’ officials said. “We have to get it reopened for traffic as it affects multiple companies and industries.”

If the Corps led the dredging/beach restoration project, federal funding would cover the $1.5 million project cost. If the county contracts directly with a dredging company, without partnering with the Corps, the cost likely would be closer to $2.5 million, which would be paid for with county bed tax money, Kisela said.

The county currently is looking at three dredges with the hope that one of them can perform the East Pass/beach restoration work ASAP, rather than waiting until as long as this fall for a Corps-contracted dredge to become available.

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