Almost a year after Hurricane Matthew made the Dismal Swamp Canal totally unusable, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will reopen it to boat traffic.
Intracoastal boaters count on the canal, which connects the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia with the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina.U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Last October, the hurricane caused extensive damage to the canal, including fallen trees and other debris, and major shoaling. In the first few months after the storm, crews cleared more than 350 trees from the canal. Only then could the Army Corps of Engineers survey the area.
Crews have been dredging for months. And the agency has just announced it will reopen by the end of September, in time for snowbird cruisers who use the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to travel south.
“In the history of the canal, we’ve never had this issue, and we’re using every available resource to make the canal safe again for vessels,” said Joel Scussel, Norfolk District Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway project manager.
The storm also damaged Lake Drummond Reservation facilities. They will reopen to canoes and kayaks on August 18.
Engineers are also working on a design for emergency generators for the Deep Creek and South Mills locks, which were inoperable after the hurricane.
Deep Creek Lock Gate rehabilitation work, which was scheduled before Hurricane Matthew struck, is complete: the gates were reinstalled on July 19 and operating the next day.
The Dismal Swamp Canal is the oldest continually operating, hand-dug waterway in the United States, dating back to 1805.