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Dredging project hits a snag in the form of icky muck: Solution will get project back on track, benefit golf course

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

photo by Nick Stubbs

The fill retention area adjacent to Coon’s Creek is a mix of dry sand (left) and wet muck (right). The amount of muck has exceeded expected levels, overcrowding the fill area and delaying the Marina dredging project.

Hidden below three or four feet of sand, dredging crews vacuuming the bottom of the base Marina boat channel to deepen it found something they were not expecting, and it has led to a delay of the dredging project.

Mark Tyl, a senior civil engineer with the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron and head of the project, said an "unforeseen" amount of muck was being sucked up by the dredging tube, and when dumped at the fill site adjacent to Coon's Creek, it became apparent there was a problem.

"With the muck is a lot of water and when you dump it, it bloats and expands," said Mr. Tyl, who notes it was soon realized the fill sight would not be able to hold all the material.

Fortunately, the base golf course was in the market for some fill, looking to raise the level of the driving range, which is so low in spots, it frequently is shut down during the summer rainy season due to flooding.

The plan now is to remove good, dry sand from the dredging fill site and raise the ground level at the driving range. That will make more room to deal with the muck, which must be dried and the remaining solid material piled with sand. It will take about two weeks to collect the driving range fill and redistribute the fill area to resume dredging, said Mr. Tyl. That work can begin as soon as soil testing results determine there is nothing hazardous in the material, he said.

Meanwhile, the marina, which had been closed to boat traffic, is open for boating. It will close down again about mid August when the work restarts, said Mr. Tyl.

The setback means dredging, which began in May and was expected to be complete in about a month, will instead wrap up around the end of August. Part of the problem is the need to dry the water out of the muck so the fill can be piled, a difficult task in the rainy season.

The project was initiated to allow easier access for security forces boats and recreational boaters, who had difficulty navigating the shallow channel around low tide. The project includes dredging the channel leading south into Tampa Bay from the Marina and also from the Coon's Creek mouth over to the main channel. That route is used by recreational boats docked in the creek. Mr. Tyl said about 40,000 tons of material will have been removed when the work is complete; leaving a channel that is a minimum of eight feet at mean low tide.

The increased depth will allow launching the largest security forces patrol boat and safely navigating out into the Bay and return regardless of tide and ease concerns of all boaters, who always have had to time launching and returning to the ramp or Marina based on the high tide.

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