Congress Urged to Fund Ongoing Repairs of Channel Markers, Buoys in ICW

By Gina G. Scala | Sep 11, 2019
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Trenton — The state Assembly’s Environment and Solid Waste Committee is considering a resolution urging Congress to allocate the necessary monies to the U.S. Coast Guard for the complete replacement of steel channel markers and buoys on the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway, one of the busiest areas of the ICW in the nation.

The resolution was introduced Aug. 27 by Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-12th) more than a month after two Coast Guard units removed and replaced 10 broken channel markers in the ICW off Long Beach Island.

“According to local reports, although the U.S. Coast Guard has been notified and has begun repair, it has not been directed to fully replace the markers and buoys and there is insufficient, consistent funding to allow for the timely replacement of the markers and buoys on an on-going basis,” according to AR-271. “The replacement and the funding of the markers and buoys are very important for New Jersey and the safety of hundreds of boaters using the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway.”

Beginning in July, the Aids to Navigation unit, based in Cape May, and the East Coast dive unit removed 20 broken channel markers spanning the waters from Toms River to Cape May. Many believe the broken markers resulted in two boating accidents on the ICW off LBI Memorial Day weekend.

“There are ongoing conversations regarding the long-term plan to maintain and/or replace the aids to navigation in the ICW,” Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Elijah Reynolds, who spearheaded the effort for his Aids to Navigation team and the East Coast dive locker team to undertake the work, said earlier this week.

The Aids to Navigation team is responsible for ensuring more than 364 structures, including channel markers and buoys, are up to date and functional. Roughly 75 percent are located in the ICW in New Jersey, and a majority of those markers are located in local waters.

Due to the age of the aids to navigation off LBI, some are likely to fail in the future, and replacing them with a seasonal buoy, as of now, is the most feasible solution, Reynolds said.

“We recognize it’s not the best long-term solution,” he said, adding there has been mostly positive feedback from the public on the fix.

Reynolds said boaters should always operate at safe speed, stay within the confines of the channel, and if they see something, they should say something. He can be reached directly at 609-898-6427 or boaters can call the local Coast Guard station to report a discrepancy with any aids to navigation.

“We can only correct what we know isn’t functioning properly,” Reynolds said.

Weekly, every Wednesday, the Fifth Coast Guard District releases a local notice to mariners listing any and all discrepancies for aids to navigation from the Shrewsbury River in Monmouth County south to Little River in South Carolina. When issues arise after the notice to mariners is released, a voice message goes out over the radio alerting mariners to those discrepancies.

The resolution stems, in part, from the efforts of Paul Pogorzelski, a Stafford Township resident and long-time recreational boater on the ICW, who realized Reynolds and his team needed more than a pat on the back for a job well done.

“I was just impressed by the way he (Reynolds) jumped in,” Pogorzelski said, noting the issue is emotional for a lot of recreational boaters because people can get hurt and lose property.

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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