Officials eye dredging river

Staff Writer

WOODBRIDGE — Township officials are seeking to dredge the Woodbridge River to rid it of pollutants and curtail flooding issues plaguing property owners.

Mayor John McCormac said the township is moving forward with the dredging project after the council passed a resolution authorizing a permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would enable the project to move forward.

“We authorized the engineering study a while ago,” McCormac said. “It is part of our plan to clean the river and to alleviate flooding in the future.”

According to the mayor, the project will be funded using a combination of local monies and grant funding.

“We are putting some money up and using grants for the rest of it,” McCormac said.

Township officials said riverside properties have suffered multiple flooding events over the past 30 years due to land development and the industrial uses present at the mouth of the river.

The project entails the removal of nearly 23,000 cubic yards of accumulated materials, including Phragmites — a destructive wetlands grass — and debris, according to the township’s application to the Army Corps.

The proposed dredging area is approximately 10.6 acres.

The project would help to prevent flooding in the area of the Ideal Mobile Home Community off Rahway Avenue in Avenel, and in Sewaren, where the river empties into the Arthur Kill.

While the project will curtail flooding, according to McCormac, it likely wouldn’t have limited the damage of superstorm Sandy.

“Nothing would have helped [during] Sandy, but everyday, normal tidal flooding this will help,” McCormac said. “Sandy was a once-in-a-lifetime event and no amount of river cleaning will help that.

“It tends to flood during high tide and tends to flood sometimes during the rain events.”

Woodbridge saw extensive flooding during superstorm Sandy in 2012, with the worst damage occurring in areas near the Woodbridge River.

McCormac said many of the homeowners have since been either bought out by the Blue Acres program or have sold their properties to avoid the constant flooding.

“We still have to do what we can, even though a lot of people have sold their homes,” McCormac said.