Dredging project at Shoal Harbor to keep boats, ships moving safely through

A multimillion-dollar project in the Belford section of Middletown Township will soon get underway in the Raritan Bay to keep boats and ships moving safely through the harbor.
Two major companies use the waterway -- the Belford Seafood Co-op and the Belford Ferry to Manhattan.
“You get a load of fish stuck in the channel in bad weather, you are in trouble, serious trouble,” says Richard Isaksen, president of Belford Seafood Co-Op. “Take a chance of losing your boat, your life, everything.”
Ten years ago, Superstorm Sandy filled up the all-important navigational channels with sand.  
“Getting ready to start the menhaden season here and if we can’t get in, we are out of business,” says Isaksen.
Each year, close to 9,000 commercial and private trips are made in the Shoal Harbor Channel. Rep. Frank Pallone announced an $8 million project to dredge the area.  
The dredging project is expected to remove 150,000 cubic yards of material, some of which will be used to restore the bayfront beaches. 
“It’s a vital part,” says Tom Arnone, commissioner/director of Monmouth County. “You come here during the day and people want to go and cross this water here, they have to get out. Our ferry system has to get out.  This is extremely important for the success of Monmouth County.”
Bids on the project are expected to go out by September, with dredging beginning by next spring.