A project to improve navigation at Rhodes Point on Smith Island, Maryland and to rebuild part of the shoreline is expected to get underway in November. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded a $6.88 million contract to a Virginia company to begin the project.
Coastal Design & Construction Inc. of Gloucester, Virginia, was awarded the contract for the navigation improvement project at Rhodes Point in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Somerset County, the Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, announced.
It said the project construction and dredging would occur between November and April to meet environmental windows. A set schedule has not been established.
The project consists of realignment of a portion of the federal navigation channel in Sheep Pen Gut through dredging; construction of two jetties to prevent shoaling in the channel and to reduce the continual need for dredging; and creation of a stone sill along the shoreline to prevent further erosion and contain the clean dredged material from the project, the Army Corps said in a statement.
Native vegetation will be planted on the placed dredged material behind the stone sill to restore or enhance about 5 acres of wetlands. In addition, about 10 acres of existing wetlands south of the federal channel behind the newly restored acres will be protected.
Last year, Somerset County officials built 12 stone structures on the west side of a small barrier island that protects Rhodes Point from the open bay, and four more will be built this fall, said Gary Pusey, the county’s planning director. The 150-foot-long structures are designed to create a living shoreline once sand washes behind them and grasses can be planted there, he said.
Rhodes Point regularly takes a beating from storms that move up the Chesapeake Bay, and normal coastline erosion has taken its toll through the years. Both have left the Smith Island village especially vulnerable to high tides and storm surges.