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Community Commentary:

Congressional representatives assist dredging

March 16, 2009|By Leslie Daigle

The completion of the Upper Bay Ecological Restoration project is money well spent in an age where every penny counts.

Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff and I recently traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with members of the Orange County congressional delegation in an effort to assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in obtaining funding for bay dredging projects that are critical to the region.

In face-to-face meetings with Congressmen Ed Royce, Ken Calvert and John Campbell, the city found support for completion of the project. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer also support completion.

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Just last week, the upper bay project received $2.87 million from the 2009 Omnibus bill. The City Council appreciates Calvert, Royce Sanchez and Feinstein pinpointing an important regional need and supporting its appropriation.

The City Council is requesting $13.1 million in stimulus funds to complete the project. The project is shovel-ready, an important feature for stimulus funding.

We shall know later this month if the Corps allocates stimulus funds to complete this project.

Upper Newport Bay is one of the last remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California. The funds will be used for dredging, wetland restoration, island creation, and improvements to protect endangered and threatened species.

In an effort to drive down costs, the Corps will be re-bidding the project.

The City Council also requested that members of Congress provide $15 million in stimulus funds to the Corps for harbor dredging. Dredging the federal channel is an on-going obligation of the Corps.

The harbor-dredging project is in the planning stages and not yet shovel-ready. The city is working to eliminate hurdles that impede bay-wide dredging. Scientific studies are underway to identify areas of contamination, as is a cost-benefit and risk analysis of disposal options.

The Corps is willing to provide technical assistance for the engineering and permitting of this long-anticipated civil works project.

The city appreciates the resources of the Corps in clearing the hurdles necessary to make harbor dredging a shovel-ready project.

The city is working closely with our congressional delegation and the Corps to bring some of your tax dollars back home for these significant civil works projects. We must continue to persevere to boost the infrastructure of our community and region.


LESLIE DAIGLE serves on the Newport Beach City Council.

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