Lavallette officials are still hopeful that the state will dredge the channel under the West Point Island bridge, but in the mean time, boaters should exercise caution while passing through.
“I have a 26-foot Formula and I came through it last night,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero. “It is passable on the extreme western portion – but really just one boat width.”
Another area of concern is the area in between a small sedge island in the bay and the Lavallette Yacht Club property. A sand bar has developed on the south end of the island which extends into the channel itself. Navigational software has yet to catch up to the shallow depth of the area and can lead boaters onto the bar. The best bet, officials say, is to try and hug the bulkheads when possible, rather than getting too close to the small island.
Lavallette officials say one of the two areas in need of dredging – the channel which runs through town and past the yacht club into Ocean Beach – will be included in a state-funded dredging project. LaCicero said he is trying to convince the state to make a simple dredge boat pass under the bridge in order to clear the sand out of the way.
“They’re going to be very, very close to the bridge,” LaCicero said of the state’s dredge contractors. “They’re doing it anyway, so we hope they’ll be able to improve it.”
LaCicero said the dredge project will also be helpful in reversing some of the currents that were changed during Superstorm Sandy, which ultimately led to the shoaling near the yacht club.
“If you go to the yacht club, you can see the spit of sand out there,” he said.
LaCicero said a resident who lives near the bridge is in the process of obtaining his own permit to dredge near his property. The borough has also applied for dredge permits with the state.
Under the state’s plan, the innermost channel to the island will be dredged from Ortley Beach up to Brick Township’s Normandy Beach section. Known as the Lavallette Channel, the waterway is shallow in many areas but still useful for boaters to get back to their slips or to avoid the open bay on windy days.
LaCicero said the state Department of Transportation is in the process of obtaining its own permits from the Department of Environmental Protection for the larger project.