Removal Expedited at Hoyer's Request
Congressman Steny Hoyer today announced that the U.S. Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit Contracting Office last week awarded the contract to remove the St. Jerome Creek Light 4, a channel marker that was ruined during Hurricane Isabel, to Williams Marine Construction of Lusby, MD. Following the hurricane, a piece of metal remained hidden under the water creating a navigational hazard. The contractor indicated that they should have it removed by mid-January.
Congressman Hoyer helped to promptly facilitate this award so that the removal of this hazard to boaters and watermen could be expedited immediately. Earlier this year, he invited the Coast Guard to the Creek for a site visit so that they could see first hand the hazard the metal pole created. At Congressman Hoyer's request, the Coast Guard put this project at the top of their list of more than 125 backlogged projects.
"I am pleased that I was able to work with the Coast Guard to expedite the removal of this dangerous navigational hazard. The metal pole that remains under the water after the channel marker collapsed has already caused damage to boats using this waterway, and the sooner we can remove it, the better," said Congressman Hoyer. "This Creek is an important waterway to St. Mary's County and I will continue to work to improve its access and its safety. Removal of this obstruction is a positive step in the overall improvement of the navigation of St. Jerome Creek."
Congressman Hoyer continues to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge St. Jerome Creek in order to provide expanded access for watermen, charter boats, and recreational boaters. At the request of Congressman Hoyer and Senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to expedite the St. Jerome Creek project by immediately performing the engineering and design phase of the dikes and performing the Environmental Assessment earlier this year, instead of waiting for the Congressional Appropriations.
Federal funds for dredging projects have been very constrained in recent years. Of the approximately 100 waterways in the Corps Baltimore District, about two-thirds need dredging maintenance, but the President's budget is funding only a handful each year - which normally take years to complete - leaving very scarce resources for the Corps to fulfill its routine maintenance dredging program. Those projects not reporting commercial navigation benefits, such as St. Jerome Creek, usually do not make it on the list. And, in fact, federal funds for this particular project have never been included in the President's budget.
Congressman Hoyer will continue to work with the Senators and with the Corps to secure funds to begin dredging the Creek as soon as possible.