Dredging work under way

Matt Algarin
Crews from Gator Dredging have been setting up their equipment along Norriego Point, and have begun dredging sand out of the Old Pass Lagoon.

Dredging is officially under way in the Old Pass Lagoon.

"They actually began Sunday night," said Steve Schmidt, the city's public services director.

As part of the project, Pinellas Park, Fla.-based Gator Dredging will be clearing out roughly 10,000-cubic-yards of sand from the mouth of the harbor and the choked up navigation channel.

City leaders declared an emergency back in March as boat captains began having trouble entering and exiting the harbor and navigating their boats near the Marler Bridge. It wasn't uncommon for vessels to strike the bottoms of their boats against the built-up sand.

Citing safety concerns and the upcoming summer season, the city was able to work with the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council to secure the necessary funds to perform the emergency dredge. The TDC pitched in $180,000 and the city will contribute $20,000.

Work must be completed by May 24, but that shouldn't be a problem for the crew, Schmidt told The Log.

"The schedule actually calls for them to be competed and demobilized by the twenty-forth," he said. "It's probably going to be in better shape than it was when I got here."