Scarborough boaters can expect a safer and more predictable season ahead now that a second contractor has successfully completed the delayed dredging of the Scarborough River.

The dredging project ran into trouble last year when the original contractor, North America Dredge of Ellicott City, Maryland, managed to clear only 16,000 of 115,000 cubic yards of sand from the river’s navigation channel before a deadline of March 31, 2014.

A state permit required that dredging stop before April 1 to avoid interrupting shorebird nesting activity.

A second contractor, Southwind Construction Corp. of Evansville, Indiana, resumed the dredging project in November and finished the job in January.

Sand drawn from the navigation channel was pumped onto Western Beach to restore vital nesting habitat for the protected piping plover, as well as natural protection of the Prouts Neck Country Club that had washed away in recent years.

“Southwind did a great job. They’re a bang-up contractor,” said Michael Walsh, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which financed and oversaw the project.

Dredging the river is important to the town’s economy because Scarborough is home to about 35 commercial fishermen and 100 recreational boaters, town officials said. Prouts Neck Country Club has 85 additional moorings, and more than 100 transient boaters visit the harbor each summer weekend.

“The dredge project ensures safe and consistent access to the Scarborough River on all tides,” said Town Manager Tom Hall. “It also restored the beach and dune areas to repair damage from years of aggressive erosion.”

Southwind did the job for $2.3 million – significantly more than the $1.7 million bid offered by North America Dredge.

“The second contractor’s price was a more realistic price,” Walsh said, noting that Southwind is familiar with the area, having dredged the Scarborough River in 2005 and Wells Harbor in 2013.

It’s unclear how much North America Dredge will be paid for its partial effort. The company has submitted a bill and the Army Corps is negotiating a settlement, Walsh said.

When North America Dredge was on the project, the company got a late start, experienced several equipment breakdowns and failed to operate continuously, which was expected to meet the March 31 deadline.

Town officials were worried when North America Dredge didn’t finish the job in 2014. The river must be dredged periodically to maintain safe navigational channel and it was largely impassable for many boaters except at high tide.

Southwind, in contrast, “completed the project ahead of schedule and with no impact to maritime travel,” Hall said.

Southwind dredged the river’s entrance to be 8 feet deep at low tide and the channel and anchorage area to be 6 feet deep at low tide.

The company used a hydraulic dredge and a pipeline to pump sand from the channel onto Western Beach.

“This is a tremendous benefit to the Scarborough maritime community,” Hall said.


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