Army Corps asked to dredge Jones Inlet after fatal boat accident

Mark Harrington for Newsday

Originally published in Newsday

A state senator is calling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “immediately” dredge Jones Inlet for safer navigation after a fatal boating accident May 2, but the federal government indicated funds may not be available to complete the work in 2020.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) requested in a  May 4 letter that the federal agency dredge the inlet that is a major waterway between Nassau bays and the Atlantic Ocean. He asked that the agency look into “whatever other measures are necessary for its safe navigation,” according to the letter.

“The need for your intervention is urgent,” Kaminsky wrote, “as the inlet has become nearly impassable at certain times and its condition unfortunately contributed to a recent, fatal boating accident.”

John Costa, 54, drowned when his 22-foot boat overturned as he attempted to navigate rough seas in the inlet at Point Lookout, according to Nassau Police. A second man remains missing.

An Army Corps spokesman said the federal agency indicated the work may not get done this year. 

“We recognize the importance of this navigation channel to the state and local communities,” spokesman Hector Mosley said. “However, there are no fiscal year 2020 appropriated funds to perform the needed maintenance dredging.”

Like other Long Island inlets from Montauk to Moriches, the Jones Inlet can become “sand-clogged” and create unfavorable boating condition, such as large rolling waves that can impede navigation.

The conditions often require boaters to “move horizontally and circumnavigate the troubled areas, exposing them to broadside wave impact,” Kaminsky wrote, noting the Army Corps has previously dredged the channel at six-year intervals, most recently in 2014.

“It is clear dredging is overdue,” Kaminsky wrote.