BEAUFORT — County officials are in the process of soliciting public comments on a pair of proposed projects to bolster the Straits fishing pier on Harkers Island Road and the Salter Path beach access on Bogue Banks.
County officials have applied for a federal grant, which they hope will cover the bulk of costs at the two sites.
“Storm surge and wave action dislodged pilings and decking, damaging the pier,” reads information provided by county staff on the Straits project. “Repairs will be made to restore a destroyed wooden pier by resetting and installing new pilings, and reconstructing decking utilizing concrete hog slats, railing, and supports to current codes and standards.
“Repairs will be made to restore the beach access by repairing fencing, beach access roofing, and a street light, damaged during the storm,” the information continues.
Though the county is seeking the funding, the state owns the Salter Path Beach Access.
Public comments can be emailed to FEMA-R4EHP@fema.dhs.gov and senders must use the subject line “DR-4393-NC-01431 11988 COMMENT.”
Grant funding, as of now, has not been determined and is contingent on county officials and their compliance with regulations put forth by tribal, state and federal laws.
Specifically, the grant is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program.
“Public Assistance is a reimbursement program that provides federal funding to help communities respond to and recover from disasters such as Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael,” reads information provided on FEMA’s website. “FEMA reimburses state and local governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations for the cost of disaster-related debris removal, emergency protective measures to protect life and property, and permanent repair work to damaged or destroyed infrastructure.”
While the county’s public notice blames the damage sustained at both sites on storm surge and wave activity, it does say Hurricane Florence in September 2018 played a major part in the deterioration.
“All repairs will return the facilities to their previous function before Hurricane Florence,” the public notice reads. “The purpose of these repairs is to return the damaged portions of the Straits Pier and Salter Path beach access to promote open space use and contribute to tourism income for the town.”
County officials considered alternatives to the proposed project, one of which included doing nothing.
“The ‘no action’ is not practicable because the pier supports recreation and open space and contributes to tourism income for the town,” the notice reads.
Another alternative suggested was reusing similar material to that used when both structures were originally constructed.
“Wooden decking would not protect the pier as well as concrete decking in future similar events,” the notice continues.
The Straits fishing pier and the Salter Path beach access were originally constructed in 2005 and 2011, respectively.
County officials considered the locations of the two sites relative to flood plains. Both are located in an AE flood plain. The categorization AE means there is an above 1% chance of annual flooding.
“The proposed work conforms to all applicable State of North Carolina and local floodplain regulations,” reads a portion of the notice. “There is a potential for the facility to be impacted by similar flooding events due to its location within an (AE) zone.
“The proposed work will not take place in wetlands per the United States Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory and will have little potential to impact or affect wetland values,” the notice concludes.
Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.