Fortescue boaters waiting for dredging to begin -

Fortescue boaters waiting for dredging to begin

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Boaters who use the Fortescue Creek to access the Delaware Bay are growing weary.

"Nothing. Nothing is going on. We've been delayed, delayed, delayed," said Dave Raudenbush with the Fortescue Captains and Boat Owners Association.

They are hoping a dredging project that was slowed by difficulties securing permits according to DEP officials, soon helps to correct problems with the depth of the passage made worse by Hurricane Sandy.

"We can’t get out of this creek. You can get through the creek but you can’t get out and into the bay because there is a big sandbar across there," said Raudenbush.

Raudenbush says boats have been forced to wait hours for high tide in order to enter the creek.

The shallow waters have also made their economic mark on the surrounding businesses.

"If they get caught up on a shoal and they've got a load of oysters, they have to have them on ice, refrigerated in a certain amount of time,” said Mayor of Downe Township Robert Campbell.

“If they get hung up for a few hours, they may have to dump their entire load."

However, with the permits now in order, both DEP and Downe Township officials believe that much needed relief is around the corner.

"I'm really optimistic that within a two week period, we're going to have dredging equipment down here and get this channel open," said Mayor Campbell.

DEP officials say Sandy further complicated the dredging project and that a large-scale project along the entire New Jersey coast after the storm required additional resources from the department.

New rules from the DEP also hope to cut down on some of the red tape surrounding Sandy recovery projects and could benefit areas like Fortescue.

"All of the permits are out, all the public notices are out and everything that needs to be done is being done," said Mayor Campbell.

A spokesperson with the DEP told us by phone the two-part project will begin first by removing shoaling created by sandy before a larger project starts in the fall.

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