Projects in Ocean City, Maryland

PUBLIC NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY: Ocean City Harbor & Inlet Project: Worcester County, Maryland, Proposed Navigation Improvements Draft Finding of No Significant Impacts and Environmental Assessment

ALL INTERESTED PARTIES: Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is proposing to realign approximately 3,360 linear feet of the Ocean City Inlet navigation channel to immediately south of its current position where most water is already at the federally-authorized 10-foot depth. Dredging of inlet bottom sand would be required locally. USACE also proposes to construct two 300-foot long rock structures to close gaps in the existing breakwaters at the north end of Assateague Island (600 feet total) and to construct a 150-foot long jetty extending to the northwest into Sinepuxent Bay. The National Park Service is a cooperating agency for preparation of the draft Environmental Assessment (EA). Worcester County, MD, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) are the local project sponsors. The navigation improvements are proposed under Section 107 of the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP).

From 2019 to 2021, USACE investigated physical environmental conditions, conducted extensive public and agency coordination, formulated alternatives, and modeled effects of alternatives using sediment and hydrologic computer models. The proposed navigation improvements are based on these economic, engineering, and environmental analyses. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, USACE has prepared the below draft EA and evaluated potential impacts of the proposed project on the human environment.

USACE requests comments regarding the draft EA and Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) by June 26, 2022. Comments can be submitted via email to: For additional information, you may call Chris Spaur at 410-962-6134.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Ocean City, MD

 Typical Ocean City Scene in the Summer
 A typical scene in Ocean City in the summer.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, plays an active role in Ocean City – carrying out multiple missions and ongoing efforts in and around this coastal city. On this page, find out the latest regarding the coastal storm risk management project at Ocean City, work associated with the Ocean City Inlet and ecosystem restoration efforts at Assateague Island.

Water Resources Study Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): This EIS was prepared to address impacts of four components (1) short-term restoration of the northern end of Assateague Island, (2) long-term sand management, (3) navigation improvements, and (4) environmental restoration in the coastal bays.


Ongoing Army Corps Efforts

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 Ocean City Coastal Storm Risk Management Project
 Beach renourishment work in 2017
Beach renourishment activities as part of
maintenance of the coastal storm risk management         
project at Ocean City.

The Atlantic Coast of Maryland Shoreline Protection Project reduces coastal storm risk in Ocean City, Maryland. The project is a cost-shared effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District; the state of Maryland; Worcester County; and the Town of Ocean City.

The project consists of the wide, elevated beach berm (essentially the beach, which many may not realize exists to reduce storm risks), the protective sea wall built into the boardwalk and the vegetated dune system that continues north from the boardwalk to the state line.

These elements work together to reduce impacts to the community from big and small coastal storms that cause flooding, storm surge and wave action. The Corps estimates the project has prevented roughly $927 million in damages to Ocean City to date since its completion in the early 1990s.

 Ocean City Inlet Dredging
Aerial view of Ocean City Inlet 
 Aerial view of Ocean City Inlet

Ocean City Inlet is authorized to a depth of 10 feet, plus 2 feet of allowable overdepth to ensure safe navigation, when funds are available. Historically, the availability of navigation maintenance funding for Ocean City Inlet has not been enough to keep the Ocean City Inlet channel at its authorized depth.

While there are two active efforts associated with the inlet, including one specifically focused on long-term navigation improvements, Baltimore District continues to address shoaling in Ocean City Inlet as best as it can within its authorities and as funds become available. Alternative approaches to help address navigation issues have primarily consisted of small navigation-specific dredging jobs carried out by smaller U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges when funding is available, as well as leveraging our Assateague Island Restoration work and its associated dredging as much as possible to address shoaling hotspots.

 Ocean City Inlet Projects (Scour Hole Study and Navigation-Shoaling Project)
LARC works in Ocean City as part of study of scour hole
Army Corps vehicle that goes between land
and water works in Ocean City as part of study on
scour hole near Homer Gudelsky Park.

Baltimore District has two efforts underway looking at Ocean City Inlet, including one focused on the growing scour hole near Homer Gudelsky Park and another assessing potential navigation improvements as a result of shoaling. While each effort has a specific focus, the data being gathered and analyzed will be shared between the two efforts in order to increase efficiency, reduce costs and expedite the delivery of solutions for the community. Please click on the handout below to view the current status of these efforts. 

Scour Hole: Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Study - Baltimore District is assessing a large scour hole that has formed northwest of the inlet near Homer Gudelsky Park. The scour hole is estimated to be at least 50 feet deep in parts and growing, causing shoreline instability and foundation issues and compromising the rip rap along the shoreline. It also has the potential to endanger coastal communities. The goal of the study is to identify the cause of the scour hole and to recommend a path forward to address the scour hole. Data gathered for this study regarding sediment transport is also expected to benefit long-term efforts to address navigation issues associated with Ocean City Inlet. For this effort, we are working closely with the Army Corps Engineer Research and Development Center. The study is 100 percent federally funded.

Ocean City Harbor and Inlet Navigation Improvement Project - This project entails the analysis of potential navigation improvements to help address issues mariners regularly encounter when traversing the federal channel. The inlet suffers from chronic shoaling, despite maintenance dredging, particularly in certain hotspots that have caused problems for commercial fishermen and recreational vessels that rely on the channel. The Corps will evaluate sediment transport in the inlet and recommend options for managing the shoaling to include structural solutions like jetties or channel modifications like deepening the channel in the inlet. This project is 90 percent federally funded.

 Assateague Island Restoration
Assateague Island erosion just south of the Ocean City Inlet circa 2002 
   Assateague Island erosion just south of the Ocean
   City Inlet circa 2002.

Since 2002, Baltimore District has been carrying out the Assateague Island Restoration project in partnership with the National Park Service. This project involves dredging sand from in and around the Ocean City Inlet navigation channel and beneficially placing it south of the inlet just offshore of Assateague Island. This work is done to mitigate the impacts of sediment transport and erosion caused by the Ocean City Inlet and jetties.

This dredging, referred to as bypass dredging, is typically done twice annually. While the Assateague Island Restoration project is not a navigation project, it does have incidental benefits to navigation due to it drawing material from in and around the inlet to restore the eroded beach south of the inlet on Assateague Island. While not a long-term solution, Baltimore District has leveraged the bi-annual bypass dredging to also address the most significant shoaling hotspots in Ocean City Inlet when feasible. 

Army Corps in Ocean City