A $900,000 river dredging project is underway in Newington.
The Army Corps of Engineers is the contractor for the federal project, which is intended to make the Piscataqua River more navigable in one area. When completed next month, some 15 thousand cubic yards of sand and gravel will be taken from the Simplex Reach, upriver from the I-95 bridge. Tugboat Captain Chris Holt says that the project will improve navigation for vessels in that area.
Right now, he says, the three shoals created by river currents can create a hazard.
"You could have a boulder stuck down there, and if we scrape that shoal up area or even if it's just packed mud and ground up seashell, and all that, the hard bottom, you can dent the bottom of a ship and do some serious damage."
The affected area is directly in the shipping channel, and can present an obstacle to larger ships delivering materials to companies in Newington. The shoals have been routinely dredged every five to seven years, but the last time the work was performed was in the year 2000. Holt says that they are causing minor problems now for mariners, who can only bring their vessels in at high tide. A Massachusetts based contractor will remove the material and dump it into a deep hole in the river closer to the ocean.