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Cape Fear River gets routine dredging

READ MORE: Cape Fear River gets routine dredging
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Just like the roads in our area, the Cape Fear River needs some regular work to keep traffic flowing. That's what's going on now near downtown.

Despite the need for the regular dredging, some people oppose the work.

Roadwork and repaving are a pretty common sight in Wilmington. The Cape Fear River also has its own maintenance schedule, but just not as often.

"The region that people are asking questions about now is adjacent to the PPD building. That's an area of the river we do every three to five years," Army Corps of Engineers Navigation Project Manager Bob Keistler said.

The contracted ship is doing pipeline maintenance dredging. It's part of the Army Corps of Engineers' annual project to provide navigation for commercial ships up and down the river.

Some locals are against the work. Environmentalist Mike Rice says with the relatively low number of ships that come up the river, the cost is simply not worth it.

"The loss of beaches, loss of habitat, the Cape Fear River as it has been modified by the Corps of Engineers is unstable. It's naturally much shallower, actually about 20 feet deep," Rice, with Save the Cape, said.

The Corps of Engineers says that the boat is dredging between 32 and 34 feet. That way it's easier for bigger ships to turn in the river.

"It's about a $4 million contract. Southern Dredging out of Charleston has this contract, and they normally do a really good job for us," Keistler said.

Each year the contracts are permitted and go through resource and environmental agencies to avoid upsetting habitats as much as possible.

The Corps of Engineers says work on this project, which began this week, should only last two to three more weeks.

At the same time another dredging project is taking place down near Bald Head Island. This $10 million contract won't be finished until the end of March.

"If you didn't know it was coming, it's a lot of activity and will bring some interest," Keistler said

Save the Cape's Rice says the money spent on dredging would be better spent on projects like beach nourishment.

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