Bogue Inlet channel remains stable, relocation not necessary for a decade or more, shore office reports

Since a 2005 project to relocate Bogue Inlet channel and slow erosion at The Point in Emerald Isle, the beach has accreted and new dunes have formed. Carteret County officials expected the relocation project to have a 15-year life, but it now appears it might get closer to 30 years. (Brad Rich photo)

EMERALD ISLE — In 2005, when Emerald Isle and the state of North Carolina paid $11.4 million to relocate Bogue Inlet channel farther from the rapidly eroding western tip of Bogue Banks, experts thought they might need repeat the process in 15 years.

Sixteen years later, Carteret County Shore Protection office manager Greg Rudolph says it might be another 12 years or longer before it’s necessary.

“It’s a real success story,” Mr. Rudolph said Monday, speaking during the monthly meeting of the County Beach Commission. “We think we have about 12 years to go if (the channel) keeps moving at the same pace.

“From a navigation standpoint … there are a few hotspots,” Mr. Rudolph added, but those can be cleaned up with a maintenance dredging project scheduled this fall.

Carteret and Onslow counties and the towns of Cape Carteret, Emerald Isle, Swansboro and Cedar Point have chipped in a total of $100,000 for the project, and the state will kick in $200,000 from its Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund, which gets revenue from the marine fuel tax and boat titles and transfers.

Mr. Rudolph recalls 2005 quite well, as he stood precariously on sandbags at The Point, looking at the churning surf threatening houses while he took photos.

Tom Jarrett, who led the planning for the project as an engineer for Coastal Planning and Engineering, agreed.

“We did get a little lucky,” he said during the meeting Monday. “We had a few little glitches early on, but (the channel) settled down after six or eight months and behaved like it should have.”

Mr. Rudolph said currently the channel is migrating east, toward The Point, at about 20 feet per year. That’s still about 663 feet west of the eastern side of a “safe box” all involved are using to predict when a relocation will be necessary.

In planning the 2005 project, Mr. Rudolph said, Coastal Planning and Engineering knew the channel had a “nasty habit … of migrating back and forth” so the engineers looked at historical data and maps to determine where the channel had been when it was most stable. That turned out to be a 1976 alignment, so that’s the location the engineers chose, about 3,500 feet west of its location in 2005.

The project involved a dike that blocked the existing channel so water would have to flow into the new channel that was dredged. The 710,000 cubic yards of dredged sand was piped to shore as nourishment for 4.5 miles of beach in western Emerald Isle.

When complete, the approximately 1,000 sandbags that protected the valuable real estate and town infrastructure at The Point were no longer needed.

The total project cost, including all environmental documentation, permitting and engineering, construction and post-construction environmental monitoring was about $11.4 million, with $3.8 million from the state and $7.6 million from the town. Emerald Isle’s money came primarily from a bond sale and special tax districts established to generate money for beach nourishment.

The end results, in addition to improved navigation and protection of property and infrastructure, include conservation of habitat and creation of additional habitat for shorebirds, as The Point has continued to accrete over the years.

Mr. Rudolph and Mr. Jarrett said they were happy, looking in the rear view mirror at the project and pleased the design and implementation of the channel relocation has not caused problems for Bear Island, part of Hammock’s Beach State Park in Onslow County.

 

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

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