Oceanic bridgeThe Oceanic Bridge, as seen from the Rumson side.

The Army Corps of Engineers will spend $2.55 million on dredging to improve boat traffic and safety on the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers, the agency announced yesterday.

The funding will come from $4.6 billion in federal funds earmarked for civil works projects under the economic stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama in February.

Some $86 million of the $4.6 billion is coming to New Jersey, according to the Corps' list of ready-to-go projects receiving stimulus money.

The $2.55 in local funding will be used to restore navigational channels in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers and to remove shoals at the Oceanic Bridge to alleviate the risk currently experienced by users of the channel, the corps said in a report.

Herman R. Silbiger of the Navesink River Municipalities Committee welcomed the news.

"I think that's something that's long overdue," he told Asbury Park Press.

He said that now, larger boats have to wait until high tide to navigate in that area.

Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr. of Long Branch told the Press, "I imagine they will be out there dredging before the summer."

But Pallone and Rep. John Adler expressed disappointment that beach nourishment projects were excluded. They were among at least 30 lawmakers who wrote to the White House to include beach restoration in projects eligible for stimulus funding.

Pallone told the Gannett Washington Bureau he's lobbying the White House to include beach restoration in Obama's 2010 budget, details of which are scheduled to be released in early May.

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