Storm-swept areas to be replenished with tons of sand
By Kari Pugh | Editor
The storm-swept beaches of the Outer Banks will soon be replenished with millions of tons of sand from the Continental Shelf.
The Dare County Board of Commissioners, at the year’s first meeting Jan. 3, hired a Louisiana company to pump sand from offshore onto the beaches of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. Exact dates haven’t been set, but work is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed by the end of the year.
The county and four towns are working together to widen just under 12 miles of shoreline as part of a plan to add sand to depleted beaches every five years. The last renourishment project was completed in 2017.
Dare commissioners awarded the $28.9 million contract to Weeks Marine for the work on the northern Outer Banks, along with a $25.8 million bid to another contractor for two projects on Hatteras Island, widening a 2.5-mile section of beach in Avon known for ocean overwash flooding, and maintenance on a 2019 nourishment project in Buxton.
In Avon, more than a million cubic yards of sand will be placed along the oceanfront from about 3,000 feet north of Avon Pier to Due East Road, about a mile away. It’s the first time Avon will undergo beach nourishment, and the project will initially widen the shoreline by about 100 feet.
The county awarded the bid for both Hatteras Island projects to the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., the same company that completed nourishment in northern Outer Banks towns in 2017. The bid price includes the cost of mobilization and demobilization, dredging, placement, grading and environmental protection required under federal and state permits.
The Buxton beach nourishment project, done once before in February 2018, includes 2.9 miles of shoreline from north of Buxton to the beachfront near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Maintenance renourishment of this area is scheduled for the summer of 2022.
A combination of funds will be used for Hatteras Island renourishment.
Dare County is establishing an Avon tax district to pay for its part of the projects, charging an extra 40 cents per $100 of value on homes on the oceanside of N.C. 12 and an additional 10-cent tax for other properties. Avon property owners will pay about half the local project cost, while the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund, which is funded with occupancy tax on lodging, will pay the other half.
The Town of Nags Head is planning a separate beach restoration project to replace sand lost during 2019’s Hurricane Dorian, with a start date this summer and continuing into fall. The Nags Head Board of Commissioners last week awarded a $11.5 million bid to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co.
The project will place sand on 4.45 miles of beach in south Nags Head, from Jennette’s Pier and stretching south to the town limits abutting Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Nags Head is creating four additional municipal service taxing districts to pay for the beach nourishment, bringing the town’s total municipal service districts to six.
“Because beach nourishment maintains a healthy and attractive recreational beach, protects infrastructure like roads, water lines, sewage systems, electrical services, and beach accesses, while also protecting properties on and adjacent to the oceanfront, every Nags Head property owner realizes benefits,” Mayor Ben Cahoon said.
Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management granted Dare County access to up to 6.6 million cubic yards of sand from the Outer Continental Shelf to restore 11.6 miles of beaches.
Outer Banks beaches drive about $1.4 billion in tourism spending each year, with the year-round population of about 37,000 swelling to 225,000 to 300,000 at times during summer months.
But more frequent and powerful storms along the coast, coupled with sea level rise, have led to greater demand for offshore sand to restore and protect coastal communities and habitats, BOEM officials said.