Mounds of sand

The Ellis Island dredge discharges sand Wednesday to be spread on the beach by a waiting bulldozer in Emerald Isle.(Carteret County Shore Protection Office photo)

emerald isle — The $28.2 million Bogue Banks beach nourishment project is now expected to be complete Wednesday, except for planting vegetation on newly created dunes.

Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, said late last week that before the weekend, the Ellis Island, the dredge boat working on the project for contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Illinois, had about 15 loads of sand to dredge up from the borrow site off Atlantic Beach and carry to western Emerald Isle to be spread on the strand by heavy equipment.

If all goes well, he said Friday, Great Lakes will begin removing the pipelines from the beach almost immediately after completion of the pumping.

The latest and final discharge point for the wet sand was through a submerged pipeline that comes ashore along the beach in the Ocean Oaks subdivision. It’s about 3,500 linear feet from the end of the project near the club house at the Land’s End development.

Rough seas, Mr. Rudolph said, caused a couple of delays this week – first Monday and then again Thursday night – as storms moved through the area.

At mid-afternoon Friday, with seas still rough, the normally 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week operation was still temporarily halted, but Mr. Rudolph said only 3,300 linear feet of beach remained and he was confident Great Lakes would meet theThursday deadline, set largely because of the increased likelihood of sea turtles coming ashore to nest.

If not for the delays, he said, the project would have been finished a couple days earlier and no one would have had to sweat the end.

The only hitch is that because of the sea turtle nesting issue, all of the pipe and heavy equipment is also supposed to be off the beach by the end of Thursday. That’s not going to be possible.

So, Mr. Rudolph said Friday, the county has requested and received a seven-day extension to get the beach cleared.

“They’ll be working hard to get it all removed,” he said. “Great Lakes has done a great job in the whole project, and we really appreciate the cooperation we’ve gotten from the state and federal (regulatory agencies).”

The dune planting is supposed to begin Monday, May 4.

“They’ll go east to west, starting in Atlantic Beach,” where the project began in early February, Mr. Rudolph said. “There will be two passes. First, they’ll plant the top of the dunes, mechanically. Then they will go back and plant the rest of the dunes by hand. That will take much longer.”

The planting is expected to take two or three months, depending on the weather.

About 7,000 plants will call the new dunes home. They’re being stored in a greenhouse and are ready to go, Mr. Rudolph said.

“That’s a massive undertaking, too, just to get them here, as you can imagine,” he said.

Most of the plants are sea oats, which are tall, but there will also be some bitter panicum, a species that is more horizontal.

The project put in place 522,000 cubic yards of sand in Atlantic Beach, west of The Circle development district, and 990,000 cubic yards in Pine Knoll Shores. Salter Path’s beach access site received 145,000 cubic yards, and Emerald Isle’s total will be 345,000 cubic yards, from Sea Dunes to the Land’s End club house. The project total is about 2 million cubic yards of sand along 9.5 miles of beach.

The project was funded by about $15 million in state money, allocated by the legislature to repair Hurricane Florence damage, and about $13 million in county beach nourishment reserve fund money, which comes from 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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