ATLANTIC — The Atlantic Harbor improvement project is moving steadily toward completion, with work underway to construct a living shoreline of granite and aquatic vegetation around White Point, just offshore in Core Sound.
The late Jonathan Robinson, a county commissioner, strong supporter of the project and lifelong resident of the Down East fishing village, had advocated for the improvements.
“It was appropriate in a way that literally during his graveside service last Monday (June 1), you could clearly hear the armor stone being delivered, dumped and stockpiled at White Point,” Carteret County Shore Protection Office Manager Greg Rudolph said Tuesday. “Remember, they’re coming from (a quarry in) Nash County, so what’s the chances the deliveries would be right at that time? Maybe kind of God’s way of tipping his hat at Jonathan.”
Whether it was divine provenance or not, by Tuesday contractor T.D. Eure of Beaufort had installed 7,000 linear feet of the granite “sill,” about 40% of the ultimate 1,700 linear feet. Construction of the sill – a part of the living shoreline – began less than three weeks after the May 14 completion of the dredging of the entrance channel from the sound and a landward choke point.
The contractor dredged up 8,800 cubic yards of shoal material.
The county had pre-tested it for toxicity and found it safe, so the contractor placed it on White Point.
It's all designed to be as permanent a solution as possible to the shoaling problems that have made it difficult for fishermen and boaters to use the harbor for at least a couple of decades, and more dredging is possible.
Mr. Robinson pushed for a project for years, the county got the permits and the N.C. Coastal Federation kicked in a $1.1 million grant from the National Wildlife Federation to fund the living shoreline, which is a “natural” alternative to sea walls or jetties to lessen erosion.
“Basically the living shoreline construction process includes removing the old weathered sandbags, then the initial excavation of material so we can lay down the filter fabric and provide the right type of shallow water depths landward of the sill,” Mr. Rudolph added in an email. “Then granite bedding stone (9,545 tons) is placed on top of the filter fabric, which is gravelly in size, and finally the big granite pieces of armor stone are positioned. The granite from Wake Stone (Corp.) is an absolutely beautiful product: perfectly sized, consistent, and heavy.”
T.D. Eure, which also had the county contract for the dredging, “has been performing a tremendous balancing act between receiving the bedding and armor stone, and constructing the living shoreline itself,” Mr. Rudolph said. “There’s only so much room out there to stockpile stone and move the stone with huge trucks and track hoes. You don’t want to run out of stone and be sitting at the site waiting for deliveries, but you don’t want too much stone delivered that you can’t move out there.”
Already, fish are swimming in and out of the openings left in the sill, as planned.
“There were small schools of saltwater minnows in the small tidal ponds landward of the sill the day after the sill was installed, and that was just within the first couple 100 feet of construction,” Mr. Rudolph said.
Wave attenuators, designed to limit wave energy into the harbor and further reduce erosion and siltation, will go in after the sill.
“We (did) advance borings to ascertain the sediment characteristics for when we sink the sleeve,” Mr. Rudolph said in the email. “The attenuators fit almost like a lollipop into the circular sleeve and are clamped into place. We could very well be complete with everything by (Saturday) August 1.”
The NCCF, based in Ocean, will handle the plantings. The environmental organization has years of experience with living shorelines and encourages and helps install them because they provide habitat for juvenile marine species, including oysters, which attach to the rocks.
The most likely plant species, Mr. Rudolph said Tuesday, are spartina alterniflora, or smooth cordgrass, spartina patens, or salt meadow cordgrass, and possibly juncus roemerianus, or black needle rush, and then some more upland plants.
The whole project contract is $1,949,188. In addition to the NCCF grant, the state is kicking in money and the county’s share of the cost is expected to be about $200,000.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.