Matt and Members of the Board of Commissioners,
With regards to the status of the Emerald Isle Alternative Boat Channel Project, we would like to provide the following update.
For reference, the identified alternative channels are shown in this picture:
As was described during our presentation to the January Board of Commissioners meeting, we have already carried out several studies so far on the potential alternative channels, including environmental mapping (seagrass and shellfish) and bathymetry was conducted in 2022.
Environmental agencies requested a second seagrass survey in the spring to look for a second seagrass species that is more prevalent earlier in the year.
- This second seagrass survey is scheduled to take place next week (May 8 – May 12).
- This second seagrass survey will concentrate primarily on Alternatives 1 and 1A, which appears to have less regulatory and resource agencies roadblocks as compared to Alternative 2 where more evidence of SAV and benthic habitat was found outside of the proposed alternative channel.
Once the last round of environmental mapping is completed, Moffatt and Nichol will discuss the results of the mapping with environmental and regulatory agencies and get a better idea on the likelihood of permits being granted for the new channel excavation. We would anticipate that the Town would also be a part of these agency discussions. At this point, if the Town decides to continue to the permitting phase of the project, we would expect permit applications to be submitted in October, with permit issuance sometime in the late winter or early spring of 2024. This timeline is illustrated below (taken from our January 2023 presentation to the Board of Commissioners). Construction would then take place in late 2024/early 2025.
We hope that this summary will provide you with adequate information to inform your constituents. Of course, if there is anything more that we can do to keep you and the public informed, please feel free to let us know.