Dismal Swamp Canal reopening next month following Matthew cleanup

A scenic view of the Dismal Swamp, or Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in Virginia. (Photo by Pamela K Spaugy)

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The Dismal Swamp Canal is set to reopen in late-September following an indefinite closure from Hurricane Matthew damage.

The canal was closed last October after Matthew caused extensive damage. This damage lead to an effort to clear the canal through dredging.

Officials said in October the canal rose two feet higher than normal elevation following the storm.

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Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced in December that the canal would be closed indefinitely as crews continued to clear debris.

“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.

On Monday, officials announced that the canal would be reopening at the end of September for vessel traffic.

Photos: Hurricane Matthew Damage

A survey in July found depths in the canal less than the normal 6 feet. The Deep Creek Channel was plotted at 4.8 feet, with Tuners Cut at 2.5 feet and Feeder Ditch at a depth of 1 foot.

Dredging work in the Deep Creek Channel was completed on June 21, officials said Tuesday. More dredging work will be done to the Feeder Ditch, with the goal of reopening it to a depth of 6 feet and width of 25 feet by the end of August.

“Since the hurricane, our goal has been to reopen the canal to navigation as soon as possible,” Scussel said.

Officials said engineers will work on designing emergency generators for the Deep Creek and South Mills Locks — which were made inoperable during Matthew.

The Lake Drummond Reservation and Feeder Ditch are set to open to canoes and kayaks on August 18, officials said.

An official reopening date for the Dismal Swamp Canal has not been announced.

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