The town of Occoquan, and the Occoquan River Maritime Association held a little party for Rep. Tom Davis R-11th at Sea Sea and Co. Saturday afternoon.
The way they see it, Davis is responsible for making a six-mile section from the Town of Occoquan to the Potomac River more navigable.
The $4.7 million, 3-year dredging project by the Army Corps of Engineers is completed, and the town was celebrating.
“The local community is very grateful for his support of local issues,” said Chris Webster, coordinator of the Occoquan River Maritime Association.
Webster said he was particularly impressed that Davis was able to get the job done at the same time he faced other weightier issues in the U.S. House of Representatives
“The mere fact that he stays focused on the things and directs his staff to things that keep our interests in mind as local constituents is a good balance. We appreciate that,” Webster said.
Davis told a group of about 70 that he couldn’t have done the job if the local people hadn’t done their part too.
“There was a lot of initial resistance to this. Every time I’d get a little assault on this issue I’d get the local groups to come and say, ‘Hey we really, really need this,’ ” Davis said.
The newly dredged channel will make life easier for the 2,500 recreational boaters who call the river home, Davis said.
The completed project brings other benefits, including more boats visiting the town via the river.
“It’s also good news for the commercial sector,” Davis said.
The public sector won’t be hurt either.
In fact, Davis said, work on the the Va. 123 bridge project over the Occoquan River might be less of a burden to local roadways now that the channel is widened to federal regulations of 100 feet and nine feet deep.
“VDOT can now consider using barges to move equipment for their work on the 123 bridge, thereby getting big trucks off of 95 and 123,” Davis said.
Before the dredging, much of the boating on the Occoquan River was hampered by the tides. Some boats couldn’t navigate the shallow waters when the tide was out.
That problem has been negated with the dredging, Webster said.
The Blessing of the Fleet Saturday morning was made easier because of the new channel, Webster said.
“The boat that we used to head up the procession would not have been able to navigate through the channel if not for the dredging,” he said.