FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.,- WINK News is uncovering delays and frustrated boaters! The dredging project approved for Big Carlos Pass on Fort Myers Beach is going no where. The area is often too shallow for boats to navigate, making it dangerous.
"The pass is filling in everyday, after every storm it gets shallower, it's dangerous."
The project that would allow for Big Carlos Pass to be dredged has hit a new hurdle. The county previously tested a portion of the sand on the side of the channel, but now, they say the sand in the middle, needs to be tested, which has stopped everything.
"The biggest thing is you can't go and come safely when you want, if there was a time you needed to come in, safe, you wouldn't be able to," said Captain Jeff Hunter with Fish Tale Marina.
WINK News got onboard a boat with a Captain Mark Combs from Fish Tale Marina. The further we got into the pass, the more shallow the water got. We went from 17 feet to two feet in just a matter of minutes. That means unless there is a medium or high tide, oats are in danger.
"When you go and you aren't able to go, you risk ruining your running gear, thousands of dollars, bent props," said Captain Hunter.
County commissioners approved the dredging back in February, but now, they say they want a new permit issued while they test the quality of sand. Those pushing for the project question why the existing permit just can't be amended?
"It's just wasted money, the permit is there and in place, it's just a matter of adjusting the permit," said Captain Combs.
Boaters say ideally, this project should be done while the Lover's Key Beach renoruishment project is being done. They say it will save time and money.
Now, Al Durrett with Fish Tale Marina says if they do this project the way the county wants to, it will cost the tax payers a lot more money. The new permit puts a price tag of about one million dollars to dredge. Durrett says almost 75% could be saved if they just amend the permit and do the project now.
County Commissioner Larry Kiker said they cannot amend the permit. There have been several attempts have been made, but says there is no possible way. He did say he is confident the project is moving along and hasn't heard its not on schedule. The new permit will be good for 15 years once it's issued.