EMERALD ISLE —The Carteret County Beach Commission voted unanimously Monday to seek bids for phase three of the post-Hurricane Florence nourishment project for Bogue Banks.
The board, which met remotely via Zoom, advises the Carteret County Shore Protection Office.
Greg Rudolph, manager of the office, said this week the vote was for a bid package that will go to potential contractors, including Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., which handled phases I and II of the project.
Phase I covered almost all of Salter Path, all of Indian Beach and eastern Emerald Isle. It was completed in 2019 and cost $20.2 million.
Phase II was completed this spring and covered western Atlantic Beach, all of Pine Knoll Shores, the remainder of Salter Path and a portion of western Emerald Isle. It cost $28.2 million and nourished 9.5 miles of beach with nearly 2 million cubic yards of sand dredged from a borrow site off Atlantic Beach and transported by the dredge boats to points off the beaches, then sent to shore by a pipeline and spread by heavy equipment.
Mr. Rudolph has estimated phase three could cost as much as $45 million. Although the length of beach to be covered and the amount of sand to be discharged is similar to that of phase two, it is to cover central Emerald Isle, far western Emerald Isle and potentially a portion of eastern Emerald Isle, all of which are farther from the borrow site than western Atlantic Beach and Pine Knoll Shores.
The contract in the bid document, Mr. Rudolph said, will include “a 60-day net invoice payment schedule” for the contractor during the work, as well as a provision that the county can “can terminate the contract after 80% of the volume has been delivered.”
The former clause is new, designed to ensure adequate cash flow during the project. In phases one and two, the county had 30 days to pay the contractor after receiving invoices.
The latter clause – the cancellation possibility after 80% of the sand delivery – was also in the other two contracts.
Mr. Rudolph said he hopes the bids will come in significantly below the $45 million maximum estimate.
“If the bids come in lower than that, then we’re breathing easier,” he said.
Phase three is tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2020 or early 2021.
Emerald Isle won’t have to pay anything out of its budget for the work because it’s basically money the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed, or will reimburse, the town and county for sand lost during Hurricane Florence in September 2018.
The county, Mr. Rudolph said earlier this month, will have close to $30 million available in the beach nourishment fund, a mix of occupancy tax, leftover state funds and FEMA money. The beach nourishment fund receives 50% of the tourist-driven occupancy tax.
That leaves a gap of as much as $15 million, and that’s cause for concern and the reason for the 60-day payment clause; payment ability will depend on when additional money the county expects from FEMA arrives.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rudolph said Thursday, the planting of dune vegetation as part of phase two was “a total washout” because of rain associated first with Tropical Storm Arthur and then with a cold front and low pressure system.
“They (contractor Coastal Transplants of Bolivia) worked a full day on Saturday (in Atlantic Beach) and that’s been the last time a plant has gone into the sand,” he said.
As of Thursday, there were roughly two days of mechanical planting left in Atlantic Beach, then the work will skip Pine Knoll Shores and Salter Path and head to more heavily-trafficked Emerald Isle for mechanical planting.
Hand-planting will begin first in Emerald Isle, after Atlantic Beach is finished.
Mechanical and hand-planting will take place in Pine Knoll Shores and at the state-owned beach access in Salter Path after Emerald Isle is finished. More than 700,000 plants, mostly sea oats, are being planted to stabilize the new dunes built in phase two.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.