With the dredging of Menemsha Channel still unfinished after two years, the Army Corps of Engineers has terminated its contract with J-Way Inc. of Avon, Ohio, directing the company to remove all of its equipment and restore the site.
A notice of termination dated March 6 states that the company did not complete the project within the time frame required in the contract. It also notes a post-dredge survey in February that showed the company removed only about 4,000 cubic yards of material from the channel this season.
Altogether, the company removed about 29,000 cubic yards of material, all of it being pumped onto a section of Lobsterville Beach in Aquinnah that was damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The project called for a total of about 65,000 cubic yards to be removed from the channel, which was last dredged in 1973.
The company was given until Tuesday this week to remove its equipment and other material from the area — including two bulldozers, a tractor, a hydraulic pump, three flatbed trucks, a 1.5-mile pipeline along Lobsterville Beach, and other equipment and debris. Most of the equipment was still in place as of Sunday.
Bret Stearns, director of the Wampanoag Tribe’s natural resources department, which is helping facilitate the Army Corps project, said this week that none of the equipment posed an immediate hazard. “There is nothing going on there that we’re concerned about environmentally,” he said.
But the project has left some damage in its wake. The notice of termination includes a list of 11 incidents that require repairs. The list includes shoaling in the West Basin, three damaged pilings, the breaching of a sand dune and other disturbances. Mr. Stearns said most of the damage occurred in the normal course of work, and the tribe had already anticipated needing to rebuild the dunes along Lobsterville Road.
J-Way arrived on the Island in October 2015 but failed to meet a Jan. 31 deadline that marks the spawning of winter flounder. The Army Corps reportedly fired the company after it failed to remove its equipment that spring, but later signed an agreement to proceed with J-Way in the fall. The company encountered a number of setbacks this season, including a blown bearing and a problem with the shaft on the dredge.
According to the notice of termination, J-Way provided a new schedule of work, as the Army Corps had requested in December, but still fell behind. The Army Corps later requested a formal explanation for why the project had not been completed by the deadline, but the notice states that J-Way offered no new information.
“J-Way’s failure to meet its contract obligations is not excusable,” the notice states, officially terminating the contract “in its entirety.”
J-Way may still appeal the decision.
Mr. Stearns said the Army Corps has assured him there would be no local cost for repairs, since the company’s bonding agency would be taking over the claim. He said there was little he could do but wait for the next contractor to be chosen, and then offer the same level of support that he offered J-Way. The project has also involved coordination among town departments in Chilmark and Aquinnah.
“We have extended ourselves as best we can to try to work things out locally so that this project can get done,” Mr. Stearns said. “And we’ll be working with the next contractor to help them as much as possible.”