Aerial photograph

This N.C. Coastal Federation aerial photo shows Atlantic Harbor and its entrance channel, as well as White Point, just offshore.

PINE KNOLL SHORES — The county received two bids Monday for the long-awaited Atlantic Harbor and entrance channel dredging project, and the County Beach Commission in a special meeting Tuesday morning recommended the contract be awarded to low bidder T.D. Eure of Beaufort.

County commissioners approved the contract during a meeting Tuesday.

The contract is for $1,949,188. There was one other bid, at $2.28 million.

County officials have, for months, said they expected the project to cost as much as $2 million, although the county’s share is likely to be in the $200,000 range.

Much of the money is coming from a $1.1 million grant the N.C. Coastal Federation obtained in 2018 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to build a living shoreline around White Point, outside the channel. The state is also kicking in money from its Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund.

“I’m stoked, to be honest, not to sound unprofessional,” Greg Rudolph, manager of the County Shore Protection Office said Tuesday. “This was a complex bid with a lot of very specific materials required for the project, and we’re real pleased T.D. Eure carefully considered the specifications and performed their due diligence before sharpening the pencil and submitting the bid.

“Although we have no control over these things, we’re also pleased a local company was the low bidder,” Mr. Rudolph added. “Our focus now is … to get our dredging work complete by (Friday) May 15 while working concurrently on the living shoreline/stabilization component of the project as well, which can be constructed through the summer.”

County Commissioner Jonathan Robinson, who represents much of Down East, said Tuesday he is “excited the work is going to start soon.

“We’re wedded to the water down here, so this means a lot to us,” he added. “It’s been a harbor of refuge, and awhile back the county spent some money and put some docks in. Hopefully this (project) will help it stay open for a good while.”

Mr. Robinson said he appreciated the effort by the County Shore Protection Office, the county manager, the state and the federation to make the project a reality.

“A lot of effort went into this by a lot of people,” he said.

Mr. Rudolph credited the county’s engineering team at Moffat & Nichol for “hustling to get the permits and authorizations in place” and also thanked the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, which served as the main clearinghouse agency and “really put a lot of focus and commitment to the permit.”

He added that U.S. Congressman Greg Murphy, R-N.C., provided important assistance.

The original bid deadline was March 13, but state rules require three bids before any bid can be opened, and only one was received. The county readvertised, got two bids and was able to open them Monday. The coastal management division gave the county 45 additional days beyond the normal Wednesday, April 1 deadline to finish the dredging.

“Our goal is to issue a notice to proceed as soon as possible so T.D. Eure can take advantage of the extended dredging window we are providing,” Mr. Rudolph said.

The 1,720-linear-foot living shoreline around White Point will use about 9,545 tons of granite and will have gaps for wave attenuators, which are designed to limit wave energy into the harbor. The federation will plant vegetation to provide new marine habitat.

The harbor, a crucial one for Down East fishermen, has needed to be dredged for at least 20 years, according to Mr. Rudolph.

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

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