On Thursday, Daigle and Kiff met with Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, as well as U.S. Reps. John Campbell (R-Newport Beach), Ed Royce (R-Orange), Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) and Ken Calvert (R-Riverside).
Congress isn’t expected to approve any appropriations until after the November election, so city officials probably won’t know until this fall if Daigle and Kiff’s visit made a lasting impression.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that about 1.2 cubic yards of sediment need to be dredged from Newport Harbor.
If Congress approves funding for the project, work would probably begin in early 2011, Daigle said.
A second phase would begin in early 2012 if more federal money is forthcoming.
Congress has already approved $1.6 million in this year’s federal budget to cover preliminary studies and engineering work to begin dredging Newport Harbor.
The harbor hasn’t been thoroughly dredged since the 1930s, and boaters often complain of running aground. Cleaning the harbor falls under federal jurisdiction, but the project is low on the list of priorities because government officials view the site as a pleasure harbor, not a working waterway.
Last year, Congress approved $17.3 million in federal stimulus money to finish dredging Upper Newport Bay after city officials had struggled for years to keep the project funded. Dredging in the upper bay is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.
“Everyone has been very positive about Newport Bay, and they were very pleased to get the Upper Bay completed,” Daigle said. “They certainly recognized the value of upper Newport bay to the region. It made a huge difference in requesting support for the Lower Bay.”