The Cape Fear National Seashore will begin construction next year on a $1 billion civil engineering project that will make the 1,000-mile-long river one of the world’s most navigable waterways.
Cape Fear National Park Superintendent John DeHaan announced the news Monday during a press conference in which officials also announced the awarding of a $25 million contract to an environmental consulting firm.
The work on the $1.2 billion project will be done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), DeHaans said.
The park will use $25.5 million in state and federal funds to pay for the work.
The construction will take place in the southern portion of the park, with work expected to be completed in 2021.
The project will take up a chunk of Cape Fear’s waterfront.
DeHausan said the park wants to help people understand how the rivers flow and the effects of pollution.
“We want to help them understand what the water is doing, and we want to educate people about what they’re taking with them into the river and what they could do to clean up pollution in the river,” he said.
The water is so polluted that, in the past decade, the river has been designated by the federal government as a “priority water” under the Clean Water Act.
The designation requires a special permit from the Environmental Protection Agency to enter the river, which requires a state permit and is typically done through a private company.
The agency requires that the project be funded by federal and state funding.
The contract awarded to Delphi is a part of that process.
The government’s decision to allocate funds for a $250 million project to protect and restore the Cape Wind was a huge boost to the park’s coffers, according to DeHaasan.
The park also will pay for construction of an additional 100 feet of water pipe to help protect the shoreline and prevent pollution from entering the water.
The $1 million construction will be the first phase of a plan to upgrade the park and create a protected, clean, and healthy river.
The remaining $250,000 is expected to come from federal and local funding.
“This is a project that has to be done because of the damage that’s done to the Cape, to the surrounding area, to our coastline, and to the water quality of the Cape,” DeHaansen said.
“And this project will help to protect the water, clean up the water and restore that environment to what it was.”
The first phase will be completed next year.
The second phase is expected in 2021 or 2022.