Businesses welcome dredging of St. Augustine inlet

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The Army Corps of Engineers is dredging the St. Augustine, Fla., Inlet to make it more easily navigable by boats that include the increasing number of pleasure yachts that visit.

Businesses along Vilano Beach tell First Coast News that the deepening of the channel will keep them operating.

“If we don’t have the boats coming in and out of here, we don’t have any business,” said Brian Beach, owner of the St. Augustine Marina store.

Project manager Shelly Trulock of the Corps of Engineers said the inlet was as shallow as 9 feet in some places. The project will deepen the inlet to at least 16 feet, allowing recreational boats and watercraft better access to the ocean from the Intracoastal Waterway.

“We have a 165-foot pleasure yacht here now,” St. Augustine Municipal Marina harbormaster Sam Adukiewicz said. “As any boater knows, it’s always good to have a wide waterway and a deep waterway.”

Some had complained about the high price tag for the endeavor, but Adukiewicz said the project will bring more boats to the marina, translating to more visitors who spend more money in the region.

The inlet was dredged and deepened last year, but Hurricane Sandy came through two months later and undid the work. Trulock said the Corps budgeted almost $2 million for the St. Augustine project because of Sandy’s effects. Because the money was budgeted, the dredging is taking place during the government shutdown.