Safety Zone Considered for Barnegat Inlet [AUDIO]
We should soon learn if the U.S. Coast Guard will be setting up a "safety zone" in the heavily traveled Barnegat Inlet that would restrict some recreational activities and boat traffic ahead of the summer tourism season.
Coast Guard Lt. Veronica Smith, chief of the Waterways Management Division, Sector Delaware Bay in Barnegat Light, said they're waiting for the results of dredge work being done prior to the start of the Army Corps of Engineers' north jetty repair project.
According to Smith, the dredge is in the process of reducing a naturally occurring shoal and widening the navigation channels.
"If the Army Corps' post-operation survey shows the shoal has been knocked back enough to allow two vessels to pass through the inlet at the same time safely, then we won't need to implement the safety zone," Smith said.
The Army Corps hired a contractor for $7.6 million, to make repairs to the Sandy-battered jetty on the north side of the Barnegat Inlet. Smith said when the project begins on April 14, two barges will be moored side-by-side, further reducing space.
"What we want to do is reduce the risk by prohibiting certain activities within the inlet, such as swimming, diving, fishing," Smith said, "anything that could put either recreational boaters or recreational activities, or the construction operation, in harm's way."
Smith said the Coast Guard will be sending out updates to the media and marinas, as well as posting on the Coast Guard Auxiliary Facebook page, on the status of the safety zone.