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South Ferry dredging deemed a success

JIM COLIGAN PHOTO | A look at the dredging process at South Ferry, just completed this week.
JIM COLIGAN PHOTO | A look at the dredging process at South Ferry, just completed this week.

It may have been a long delay before South Ferry got the attention it needed to get its ferry slips dredged, but once the work finally got under way this fall, it couldn’t have gone better.

That’s according to Cliff Clark, president of the company that transports people between Shelter Island and North Haven.

The work was completed Tuesday. Mr. Clark joined the dredge crew who took soundings to ensure the depth required had been achieved and the result met expectations.

The project started in late October with a crew from Gibson Cushman Dredging of Bay Shore working with South Ferry crews in what Mr. Clark described as “a synchronized dance.”

The work included coordinating departing ferries on either side in synch with the dredge vessels moving in to remove spoils and then move out again to allow the ferries to return to the slips.

Occasionally, there were stoppages to fix dredge equipment that hit some large boulders.

“It was really tough on the machines,” Mr. Clark said.

But stoppages were typical of a job like this and machines were rapidly repaired and back on the job, he said.

Occasionally delays resulted in five minute waits, Mr. Clark said. But customers were understanding, more curious than upset about what was happening, he added.

There was no red tape from Suffolk County, which oversaw the dredging, Mr. Clark said.

He estimated that 50,000 to 60,000 cubic yards of sand had been taken from the sites and temporarily placed on Shell Beach.

He credited Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. with lobbying successfully to keep the spoils on Shelter Island.

It will be up to Mr. Card to determine where the spoils can best be used.