Staff Update – Current Beach Projects

ICW Crossing and Channel To Jacksonville Dredge Project (New River Inlet)

See PDF of full map here.

While not actually a “beach” project, the US Army Corps of Engineer’s project to dredge the New River Inlet and channel to Jacksonville was expected to put 250,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach along the north end of town.

This project, which the Corps personnel have repeatedly reminded us, is a “navigation” project –not a “beach” project – and was intended to be completed in 2020 as part of a contract which included several inlets along the North Carolina shore. Citing mechanical problems, Covid-19 concerns, etc., the contractor, Goodloe Marine, failed to complete all of the work the contract called for and was forced to return this year to fulfill their obligation.

Once again citing mechanical issues, the contractor got a late start on the inlet project and began dredging and pumping sand onto the beach in mid-January. It soon became obvious that sand was not being placed in the areas designated by the Corps of Engineers, and that they were simply rebuilding an old spit of sand at the north end – sand which would be swept back into the inlet with the first storm-driven high tide.

Town personnel have remained in contact with Corps personnel, and – when it became clear that sand was not going to the proper placement area, voiced complaint to the Corps regarding the performance of the contractor. In response, the Corps dispatched their engineering team to the site to get a first hand look at the project. They determined that, in fact, the contractor was out of compliance with the contract parameters, and dredging ceased.

At this point, the contractor has told the Corps that there is insufficient sand on the beach to bring their piping to the placement area, and that ocean conditions have washed away the berm they had been using to move this pipe. They claim that they are working to rebuild this berm, and the Corps’ construction team is assisting with this effort. Should this not be successful, the Corps will have to reevaluate the project design.

Hurricane Florence Dune Restoration Project

See PDF of full map here.

The Florence Dune Restoration was supposed to begin in November of 2020 and conclude before April 30, 2021 when the environmental window closed (the start of turtle nesting season). The project was put out for bid, the bid awarded, and the contractor stockpiled sand and was ready to go. While this is a town project reimbursable by FEMA, it is essential that we meet all FEMA requirements to secure those funds. At the last minute, we were informed that FEMA would require a “Historical and Environmental Review” of the project before allowing it to proceed. While this didn’t seem sensible since we were not using offshore sand sources but rather mainland sand mines and were doing exactly what we had done for the recently completed Matthew project, our protests fell on deaf ears.

The contractor was able to begin the project around the first of February, starting at the south end – where the Matthew project concluded – at approximately 4400 Island Drive and working north. Since the work must be completed in a severely shortened time frame (February 1st to April 30th) the contractor (C.M. Mitchell out of Sneads Ferry) began working a second crew from the Seaview Pier at the north and proceeding south. At some point, the crews from the north and south will meet, finishing the dune restoration for that entire section of shoreline.

When this southern section is complete the contractor will open another access onto the beach north of the pier and repeat the process. One crew will go north to the far end of the project area (the border of the Topsail Reefs property) and begin working south. A second crew will go south to the Seaview pier and begin working north.

This is the tentative plan, and is subject to change. While the contractor is moving at an extremely rapid pace to this point, the progress of such a project is affected by weather, tides, and ultimately by the start of sea turtle nesting season. Should any portion of the project area not be completed by April 30th, it will be revisited in November. Hopefully it will dovetail with the FEMA Category G project to restore the Phase 5 Engineered Beach damaged by hurricanes Florence and Dorian scheduled to start in November.

To see what projects will impact your property, view this online interactive map of current and planned beach projects.

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