Lumina News file photo
A crew with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company smoothes the sand pumped onto Wrightsville Beach from Masonboro Inlet on Feb. 23, 2010.
With all the necessary funding in place to pump sand onto Wrightsville Beach’s strand, elevated demand for post storm renourishment further up the East Coast could drive up costs for Wrightsville Beach’s upcoming $6.15 million project.
At the Oct. 9 meeting of the Ports, Beaches and Waterways Commission, New Hanover County’s Shore Protection Coordinator Layton Bedsole explained that two such projects already advertised this fall in the Jacksonville district have not been met with any bids competitive enough for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award the contracts.
“It is directly attributed to Sandy,” Bedsole said, referring to the hurricane’s widespread destruction of beachfronts last year. “The majority of [dredging] fleets are in the Northeast, as you’d expect.”
This creates some urgency for Wrightsville Beach’s renourishment project, for which Bedsole said he hopes to see the Notice to Proceed as soon as mid-December. Per the corps’ project estimates, Wrightsville Beach will receive 700,000 cubic yards of sand this winter. The footprint for the renourishment project will stretch from Arrindale Street north to the former site of Moores Inlet.
In order to cut down on mobilization and demobilization costs for the dredging company that ultimately is awarded the contract, Wrightsville’s project has been combined with that of Ocean Isle.
However, that also means an extra 460,000 cubic yards of sand, potentially pushing the overall project past the April 30 deadline for completion.
“That is a fairly tight schedule to put 700,000 on Wrightsville Beach and about 640,000 on Ocean Isle,” Bedsole said. “We may be in a better contracting position if the corps was able to amend it for an extra month at the end of the winter.”
This option could carry additional restrictions, however. Bedsole cited additional sea turtle monitoring requirements, which can substantially drive up project costs, as a potential concern.
Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti said that while he doesn’t mind whether Wrightsville or Ocean Isle gets sand first, he wants to see it done this winter, rather than having to wait until the following year. Bedsole agreed, noting that the middle of Wrightsville’s beach strand is thin, and “a nasty nor’easter could hurt us, and another storm season next year could hurt us.”
For now, Bedsole said he is hoping to finalize the planning and specifications phase of the project completed this month, after which it will be advertised for a minimum of 30 days before a contract can be awarded.
Bedsole also added that the Room Occupancy Tax fund, which covers the cost of renourishment projects at the county level, is at about $36.5 million.
“That’s good considering how much sand we put on Carolina [Beach] and Kure Beach this winter,” he said.