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Photo of Manchester-by-the-Sea courtesy of CLE Engineering


This week the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new pilot Navigational Dredging Pilot Program that will fund up to $4 million in grants to municipalities with shovel-ready projects for salt water dredging of public waterways that benefit local economies. The program is being administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced the new program at the ribbon cutting for the Manchester Harbor Dredging Project, which received $500,000 in state funding through MassWorks last year. Manchester was the first dredging project to receive funding through the MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program, the state’s signature infrastructure program.

Governor Charlie Baker said Massachusetts “has one of the most vibrant maritime economies in the country, and we are committed to supporting the economic vitality, recreation, public safety and environmental resources of our coastal communities. This new pilot program is a critical next step and complements the over $30 million in funding to seaports in the Commonwealth, and our broader efforts to establish regular funding for dredging through the economic development bill, currently working its way through the Legislature.”

Lt. Governor Polito, chair of the Seaport Economic Council, said, “I have a deep appreciation for the coastal assets that distinguish our state. We are proud to partner with communities like Manchester-by-the-Sea to ensure the important work of dredging is supported, and to create a framework going forward so that more of these efforts get the funding needed to enhance our waterways and ensure they are accessible to all.”

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said, “After making the inaugural dredging grant to Manchester-by-the-Sea, we engaged extensively with over 250 stakeholders from our 78 coastal communities through local listening sessions to understand how the state can better support their dredging needs. It became clear a stand-alone dredging program was necessary to help them to make the improvements and preparations necessary for long-term growth, and fuller participation in the blue economy; and it is an essential component of the economic development legislation filed by Governor Baker in March.”

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said, “The completion of the Manchester Harbor dredging project has broad and far-reaching impact by supporting our commercial and recreational fishing industries, creating long-lasting jobs, and increasing the public access to the North Shore’s beautiful natural resources. The new Navigational Dredging Pilot Program reflects the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to coastal communities and the sustainable use of the Commonwealth’s waters.”

A number of legislative, local and maritime leaders celebrated the Manchester Harbor project, including Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, Representative Bradford Hill, Representative Sarah Peake, Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Manchester Board of Selectmen Chair Susan Beckmann, Manchester Harbormaster Bion Pike and Coast Guard Captain Eric Doucette, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Boston.

In August 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Job Creation and Workforce Development (H.4569) to reauthorize MassWorks and support $500 million of future investment in critical infrastructure, a significant commitment by the Commonwealth. The Baker-Polito Administration has increased MassWorks funding by $35 million over the past two fiscal years. Since 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded over $274 million to 134 projects in 106 communities throughout the Commonwealth.

The 2018 Navigational Dredging Pilot Program enables coastal communities to pursue projects in the immediate dredging season, beginning in September. Projects will be evaluated based on readiness, direct economic impact, and local match. Projects being supported will advance economic development opportunities in designated port areas and developed harbors; support commercial, tourism and recreational opportunities; increase public access and safety on waterways and harbors; demonstrate environmental benefits; and are consistent with the Commonwealth’s Sustainable Development Principles.

Program guidelines and applications for the 2018 Navigational Dredging Pilot Program are available online. Completed applications are due to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development by August 3.