NEWARK, N.J. –U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06) announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) has allocated $4.1 million in federal funding for the dredging of Cheesequake Creek in Middlesex County. The announcement comes after the federal lawmakers urged the Army Corps to support the dredging project, citing the adverse impacts on navigation, safety, and the local economy resulting from the lack of maintenance dreading for decades.
“This funding is long past due and I’m glad the Army Corps has recognized the urgent need to allocate resources to get this project started,” said Sen. Menendez. “For too long, marinas along Cheesequake Creek and Raritan Bay have been losing business because boats can’t navigate the extremely low tides. Once this project is completed, maritime traffic will be able to resume normal flow, and it’ll boost the local economy, while ensuring the safety of boaters, marina crews and the surrounding environment.
“I am thrilled we were able to secure this critical funding to dredge and properly maintain Cheesequake Creek, which we know will benefit the local economy and recreational users for years to come,” said Sen. Booker. “I’ve heard directly from marina owners, boaters, and local small businesses whose use and enjoyment of the creek has been negatively impacted by its shallow waters. Now that these funds have been secured, I’m hopeful that the Army Corps will work diligently to see the dredging through so the community can finally benefit from the creek’s full potential.”
“This funding is great news for New Jersey and will greatly improve the ability of boaters to access and enjoy Cheesequake Creek and the Raritan Bay,” said Rep. Pallone. “Efficient and safe waterways are critical for New Jersey’s economy, and this funding will make sure that the marinas, boaters, and fishing industry can operate effectively. I’m grateful to Senators Booker and Menendez for their support of this important project and I thank the Army Corps for its partnership in keeping the creek safe for navigation and open for business. I look forward to seeing the project getting underway this year.”
“I am thankful for the advocacy and support of Senators Booker and Menendez, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. and our State elected officials, Senator Joseph Vitale, Speaker Craig Coughlin and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez that has resulted in action for the dredging of the Cheesequake Creek channel,” said Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick. “The local boaters and business owners have been calling for the dredging of the creek for quite some time, and now the process to restore Cheesequake to its former glory will begin. It has been far too long since individuals have been able to fully enjoy the waterway, and businesses have been negatively impacted. The funding that has been secured for the project will provide much needed relief and will allow our businesses to bounce back for the benefit of boaters and the entire community of Sayreville. The time to get the job done is finally here.”
Cheesequake Creek, a shallow-draft recreational channel, serves as an inlet from the Raritan Bay for hundreds of recreational vessels that utilize the five public marinas on the creek. In recent years, sediment deposition in the creek has dramatically increased, impacting navigation, safety, and overall usage of the channel. The problem was exacerbated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, resulting in large amounts of sediment being deposited in the waterway and further impacting its depth.
The last maintenance dredging of the Cheesequake Creek was performed in 1989 by the state of New Jersey, but no further maintenance has been performed in the last three decades. The Army Corps estimates that there are currently between 6,000 and 6,500 cubic yards of sediment required to be dredged to meet that authorized depth.
Funding for this project was included in the Operation and Maintenance Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ FY2020 Work Plan. The Cheesequake Creek project competed for funding against dozens of shallow draft navigation projects nationwide. Federal maintenance of the waterway was originally authorized by Congress in 1880, and was last dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1949.