Contractor completes $28.2M nourishment project, moves to dune planting

Wet sand spews onto the beach from a submerged pipeline last month in western Emerald Isle as other sand-transport pipes sit in the foreground. (Carteret County Shore Protection Office photo)

EMERALD ISLE — After more than a year of planning and nearly three months of work, the dredging-and-sand-spreading portion of the $28.2 million Bogue Banks beach nourishment project that began Feb. 8 is complete.

The Ellis Island, the largest-capacity hopper dredge boat in the fleet of contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., as well as in the entire U.S. dredge fleet, delivered its last load of sand from the borrow site in the ocean off Atlantic Beach to the Emerald Isle strand near the Land’s End development clubhouse at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Bulldozers immediately started spreading.

“It was a half load, actually,” Carteret County Shore Protection Office Manager Greg Rudolph said in an email to the News-Times Wednesday afternoon. That meant the vessel’s last load was about 7,500 cubic yards of wet sand.

“Great Lakes Dredge & Dock, Moffatt & Nichol (the county’s beach engineering firm), the (state and federal) resource agencies and our local government partners all did a fantastic job,” he added. “Great Lakes … overcame challenges associated with … Covid-19 precautions with 100% professionalism.”

The project put in 522,000 cubic yards of sand in Atlantic Beach, west of The Circle development district, 990,000 cubic yards in Pine Knoll Shores, 145,000 cubic yards at the Salter Path beach access site and 345,000 cubic yard in western Emerald Isle from Sea Dunes to the Land’s End.

That’s nearly 2 million cubic yards of sand along about 9.5 miles of beach. It’s roughly equivalent, Mr. Rudolph said, to 166,700 dump trucks of sand.

The Ellis Island, which took over for a smaller Great Lakes dredge boat, the Liberty Island, about midway through the project, was to depart the area by Thursday, weather-permitting, and Mr. Rudolph said removal of all pipes and heavy equipment from the beach began Wednesday.

 “The submerged pipeline (that carries sand to the beach from the dredge boat) near Sea Dunes Drive in West Emerald Isle should be floated and pulled this weekend,” he said.

The land-based pipe removal is being staged on the beach at the dogleg four-wheel-drive vehicle access in Emerald Isle and pipes will be removed on large flatbed trailers.

Dredging, under the county’s contract with Great Lakes, had to end by Thursday because of the increasing likelihood of the presence of endangered and threatened sea turtles in the ocean and coming ashore to establish nests in the dunes.

Mr. Rudolph said thanks to using a trawler in front of the dredge boats, lethal takes of sea turtles and other federally protected species were minimal.

Authorizations for the project stipulated trawling for and relocation of sea turtles once water temperature exceeded 57 degrees, but the county started trawling as soon as the project began, when water temperatures were generally still below 57.

“Two loggerheads and one Kemp’s Ridley turtle were lethally taken during the project despite implementing the best avoidance measures possible … but six loggerheads, four Kemps Ridleys and one green sea turtle were safely trawled and relocated,” Mr. Rudolph said. “Six Atlantic sturgeon were also trawled/relocated.”

All pipes and equipment must be removed from the beach by the end of Thursday, May 7.

Mr. Rudolph said planting of vegetation to stabilize the new dunes will begin this week, moving east to west from Atlantic Beach.

There will be about 700,000 sea oat and bitter panicum plants, plus fertilization and initial watering. Light mechanical planters will work the tops of the dunes and the rest will be done by hand.

Mr. Rudolph urged oceanfront property owners not to install any sand fences until after the mechanical phase is complete in their area, as fences inhibit the mechanical planter. Before installing fences, property owners should contact the local Coastal Area Management Act permit officer, usually the town building inspector or planning director, then follow the guidelines specified.

Planting will likely last a couple months.

The project was funded by about $15 million in state money, allocated by the legislature to repair damage from Hurricane Florence in September 2018, and about $13 million in county beach nourishment reserve fund money, which comes from half of the proceeds of the county’s occupancy tax.

 

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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