Army Corps to clean up Flushing Bay navigation channel

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Starting this fall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct maintenance dredging of critical sandbanks in Flushing Bay to make it easier for vessels to navigate the waters.

The dredging of the 15-foot navigation channel, known as the Federal Channel that runs along the length of the bay, will start in October and be complete next January.

The process of dredging — the removal of sediments and debris from the bottoms of lakes, rivers, harbors and other water bodies — will remove about 125,000 cubic yards of material, which will then be processed and disposed of in an upland location.

The Army Corps could not be reached for comment.

U.S. Rep. Grace Men (D-Flushing) said she is looking forward to the project and hopes “it’s the beginning of an important and long project for Queens.”

She added, “It borders our district on College Point Boulevard and whatever we can do to clean up that area for environmental and economical reasons would really benefit Queens families as a whole.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights said the dredging would improve maneuverability for ships and accommodate other users of the bay, such as the NYPD’s Harbor Patrol Unit.

“In addition to seeing a significant amount of cargo pass through each year, the bay is used by the NYPD Harbor Patrol Unit, and this crucial work ensures proper navigation of these waters for the future,” he said in a statement.

The project will be funded by the Army Corps’ $12.1 million work plan included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, the law that set the funding levels for all federal agencies for fiscal year 2015. The channel dredging project is expected to cost about $250,000.

The Flushing Bay Federal Channel supports 14 marine terminals that receive and ship sand, stone and petroleum products by barge, according to the Army Corps’ website. The deep draft channel is also used by a municipal marina and the NYPD Harbor Patrol Unit Station.

In its plan for Flushing Creek, which empties into Flushing Bay in the southeast corner, the city Department of Environmental Protection noted that the quality of the water in the creek is affected by combined sewer overflows, or CSOs, when a diluted mixture of rainwater, human waste and sewage is released into local waterways once the sewer becomes full.

James Cervino, CB 7’s environmental chairman and president of the College Point Marine Transfer Station Advisory Board, said the project is “excellent” and environmentally safe and noted that it is long overdue. He said he is awaiting information about the manner in which the dredging will occur, noting that sediment plumes will form during sand digging.

“I’m still waiting for the dredge details to see how the sediment is going to be controlled, how it’s going to be dug out and how the plumes are going to be handled,” Cervino, a marine biologist, said.

He said College Point civic associations and the owners of the College Point Boat Yard are hoping the dredging will occur in local yards, too.

“They’ve been begging for some of this dredge relief to happen in their boat yards since it’s so close to where the dredging is going to happen,” he said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Posted 12:00 am, April 10, 2015
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