By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH – Hurricane Florence eroded the beach front in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. A project was already scheduled in the spring of 2019 to pump sand onto the beach front.
The Army Corp of Engineers consider that erosion an emergency and that funding be secured to help mitigate the impacts of Florence.
Florence brought strong surf conditions to New Hanover County beaches. In many areas dunes suffered heavy erosion leaving twelve to fifteen foot high escarpments or cliffs.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Wilmington District announced that the periodic nourishment contract was awarded on Nov. 30, 2018, at a cost of approximately $17.4-million to Weeks Marine, Incorporated.
On January 16th, Carolina Beach Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, “I Attended the pre-construction meeting today at the Corps of Engineer’s office for the Coastal Storm Damage Reduction project. The Weeks Marine team ( the project contractor) was there along with Layton Bledsoe from the County, Kure Beach representatives and numerous Corps staff. Weeks said they will be starting the pre-project final survey this week. We should see equipment on the north end around the 28th of Jan. As you all recall they start by delivering the pipe sections which are stockpiled on the northern end of Freeman Park. The cutter head dredge plant is stationed in the inlet area right up on the shore. That dredge is cutting and pumping sand out of the deep hole right off the tip of Freeman Park.”
He explained, “They then pump it through pipes and keep extending the pipe sections down the beach. As the pipe is extended they will cover a small section every so many yards to allow pedestrian crossing. As they extend the pipe the bull dozers sand placement equipment will be cordoned off and access to that section of the beach will be restricted until they pass further on. They will reopen the area as they pass far enough down the beach.”
He explained, “The pipe will remain in place until all the sand is placed down to about Atlantic Towers. They have until April 30th to complete both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach sand placement. They are starting in Carolina Beach.Weeks is projecting the project will take less than the full time frame allotted to be compete. However we should be monitoring progress as it will impact beach goers and beach front rentals. We may see that impact during spring break and the Easter weekend. Also we will need to confirm what we can and can not allow as to camping and vehicles on Freeman Park. Typically the pipes run just behind the high tide line leaving the ability to drive to a certain point but not park along the water.”
According to Lisa Parker of the USACE, “This contract for this coastal storm risk management project includes funding from multiple sources including federal, New Hanover County and the state of North Carolina. The non-federal sponsors for this project are the towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.”
Parker explained, “Periodic nourishment, or placement of additional sand along the shoreline, helps ensure that this project continues to provide authorized storm risk reduction benefits to homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure as well as providing an outstanding recreational resource to the public until the next scheduled nourishment event, normally every three years. This year’s contract is unique because it also includes additional repairs to the shoreline for sand lost due to the passage of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018.”
Project Manager Jim Medlock explained, “The Corps was fortunate to receive additional emergency funding to cover these repairs at 100 percent federal cost,” and, “This allows us to place more sand on the shoreline while reducing the amount of non-Federal funding required to accomplish the overall contract scope.”
In an announcement issued November 30th, Medlock estimates that the Corps will be able to issue a notice to proceed to the contractor within 30 days of contract award. Actual start of construction has not been determined. This project must be completed no later than April 30, 2019, before the beginning of the turtle nesting season.
Interim Carolina Beach Town Manager Ed Parvin explained on November 30th, “We have received a total of about $3.4 million in additional Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Federal funding (with NO additional non-Federal cost sharing required) to be combined with existing Federal and non-Federal funding amounts to award the 2018/2019 periodic nourishment contract.”
Parvin explained, “These additional funds were provided solely for impacts to both of these project’s shorelines due to recent impacts caused by the passage of Hurricane Florence. The plans we reviewed together with ACOE in October have not changed. Bottom line – Receipt of these additional non-cost shared funds would place more sand on our shoreline at a lower non-Federal costs. Based on the current contract award cost, its estimated that our non-Federal funding requirement has been reduced by approximately $600,000 at Carolina Beach and $600,000 at Kure Beach to award this contract. Please keep in mind that once the contractor conducts pre-placement surveys at both beaches before any construction begins, sand quantities are likely to increase and the effective contract price will also increase, requiring more cost-shared Federal and non-Federal funds being needed on the modified contract.”
He explained, “For Carolina Beach, this drops the effective non-Federal costs per cubic yard of sand placed from $2.34 to $1.70. For Kure Beach, this drops the effective non-Federal costs per cubic yard of sand placed from $4.34 to $3.40.”
The last beach renourishment project was in 2016 when the Army Corp of Engineers completed a project to pump sand on to the beach front in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.
The cost for that joint Carolina Beach and Kure Beach project was $12,876,439.00. That price increased when additional sand was factored into the project. Following a pre-placement survey of the beach profile the project added another 120,000 cubic yards of sand in Carolina Beach in addition to the originally planned 770,000 cubic yards. Kure Beach received another 63,000 cubic yards in addition to the planned 592,000 cubic yards.
The project cost is shared with the Federal Government paying 65% and the State of North Carolina and local governments splitting the remaining 35%. A tax on hotel, motel, and vacation rental accommodations funds the local government portion of the project cost. Both Towns are on a three-year renourishment cycle with the next project scheduled for the Spring of 2019.