Dredging of Brainerd Lake inches closer to completion with February deadline

Excavation work takes place at Brainerd Lake on Jan. 25.

Residents traveling by Brainerd Dam will continue to notice construction crew excavation work for the dredging of Brainerd Lake as an extended deadline approaches.

With the dredging project slowed by rainfall events, SumCo Eco-Contracting, which was awarded the contract for the dredging of Cranbury’s lake, requested an extension from the township and was granted one until the end of February to finish the project.

“As many of you noticed the lake dredging has taken a little bit longer than anticipated and that is due to the rainfall events that we have had. Obviously, we are working in a stream that is active during construction,” Township Engineer Tom Decker said in a report to the Township Committee on Jan. 24. “The contractor is doing the best they can to keep the lake level in check. They have two pumps running and they have a lower control structure opened up.”

The extension provides for additional time for the work that was delayed due to rain events and adds a buffer in case of potential storms that may occur, which could potentially slow the work again to complete the project.

“The extension in time does not cost anything extra. There is no increase in the contract for that,” Decker said. “Should they not be done by the deadline there are penalty clauses in the contract. So for every day that they go beyond I believe it is a $2,500 per day fine for reduction in their contract.”

The anticipation is that by March 1, Brainerd Lake would be raised back to its natural level.

“The restocking of fish would be sometime in the spring and we will take a look at that with the contractor. It has to be done in accordance with Fish and Wildlife [New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife],” Decker said.

SumCo Eco-Contracting has eight trucks running a day at the site.

“It is not eight trips a day. Those trucks are cycling in and out. It takes an hour round trip to get from the lake to the disposal site,” Decker said. “The disposal site is the Middlesex County disposal site. The disposal site takes its last load at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, so you may see trucks stopping or the last truck leave the site at 2:30 p.m.”

He added that after 3 p.m. residents will still see excavation occurring in the lake as they stockpile for the next day to have loads ready to go to the disposal site.

“The project while moving slowly, is moving. I think they have been keeping a fairly clean work site and being mindful of Village Park,” Decker said.

At the meeting residents were warned that the site of the dredging is an active construction site.

“We have had some residents going in past the fences in Village Park, basically treasure hunting a little bit. We really want to discourage residents who go out there and are digging around,” Decker said. “It is a safety issue and a liability issue and we really want to discourage folks from doing that.”

In 2021, the Cranbury Township Committee awarded a $3.08 million contract to SumCo Eco-Contracting for the dredging of Brainerd Lake.

According to the firm’s website, SumCo Eco-Contracting is a heavy site civil construction firm that is focused on ecological and environmental improvement projects and headquartered in Peabody, Massachusetts.

The dredging of the lake, which is the process of removing sand, silt and debris from gradually filling the bottom of water bodies such as lakes, began in October 2021.