The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin dredging the Scarborough River this week, a $1.7 million project that will create new habitat for the threatened piping plover and make the river channel between the Pine Point and Prouts Neck neighborhoods safer for navigation.

Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall said the Army Corps of Engineers plans to remove about 114,000 cubic yards of soil from the river’s bottom and move the material to Western Beach.

Western Beach is an extension of town-owned Ferry Beach, and provides ocean frontage to members of the Prouts Neck Country Club. Hall said the purpose of moving the material to Western Beach is to create new habitat for piping plovers. It will also help restore some of Western Beach that has eroded.

“This is a more economical approach (than depositing dredge materials offshore) and it will help prevent erosion at the country club,” Hall said. He added that the project, which must be finished by April 1, will not involve any local money and will be completely funded by the federal government.

Hall estimated it has been about a decade since the Scarborough River, which provides a channel between Pine Point Harbor and Saco Bay, was dredged. He said beach sand from Camp Ellis has historically been carried north by tides and settled in the Scarborough River. The buildup of sand makes it difficult for commercial and recreational boats to navigate the Scarborough River at low tide.

“Some boats have been running aground,” Hall said.

Pine Point Harbor is the year-round home to a commercial fishing fleet and seasonal port to recreational vessels. Old Orchard Beach is just south of Pine Point.

The Army Corps of Engineers could not be reached Monday, but a news release posted on its website said the agency awarded a $1.7 million contract for the dredging project Dec. 2 to North America Landscaping, Construction & Dredge Co. Inc., of Ellicott City, Md.

The Army Corps said the project involves dredging an 8-foot-deep entrance channel and a 6-foot-deep anchorage.

“The work consists of dredging about 114,300 cubic yards of sediment, including one foot of allowable over depth,” project manager Michael Walsh said in the release. “The dredged material will be removed using a hydraulic dredge and pipeline. Disposal will be on the adjacent Western Beach.”

Justin Kim, a spokesman for North America Landscaping, said the actual dredging work will begin Thursday. He said the company started mobilizing equipment and making preparations in late December.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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