Alpena harbor dredging to begin soon

ALPENA -The dredging project in the Alpena Small Boat Harbor is about to begin and it should have very little effect on boaters who utilize the harbor while the work is taking place.

The project was made possible when the state approved $81 million in emergency funds so shoreline communities could have their harbors dredged. The water in many of the harbors had become so shallow that boats were unable to access them, which began taking a toll on economies that counted on the seasonal boat traffic for a boost.

City Harbor Master Don Gilmet said a meeting is scheduled for Thursday with the state to get final approval of the dredging plan and then it will begin shortly after that.

“Before it begins we will have a meeting with the contractor, representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and the Waterways Commission, once that is out of the way we anticipate dredging will begin immediately,” Gilmet said. “The contractor is ready and we expect to have things started during the first week of September.”

Even though the city had roughly $800,000 to have portions of the harbor cleaned out the bid was significantly lower than anticipated. Gilmet said the low bid was $511,000 and the city will be reimbursed for some initial costs it had taken on.

“We will also get compensated for money we have already expended for the soil sampling and the permitting, which will be a few thousand dollars, as well as our engineering cost from designing the project and put it out to bid,” Gilmet said. “That will leave over $200,000 that we won’t use that can be used by other communities that need work done and didn’t get emergency money this time around.”

Once the work begins most boaters will be unaffected. There may be times when people wishing to launch their boats from the harbor may have a short wait to get clearance to motor through the work area. Gilmet said launching boats behind the post office or by the DNR station along the Thunder Bay River would make more sense.

“There will be a curtain out near the entrance of the harbor from the river and there will be certain times set up that it will be opened if boats want to go in and out,” Gilmet said. “There will not be somebody sitting in a boat all day waiting to see if boats want in and out, so I would suggest people who don’t want to wait launch at the river launch. It will be set up to minimize the impacts to the local boating community, but there could be some minor inconveniences.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at