New Buxton beach plan will start earlier, rehab jetties

By on June 4, 2019

The original project took much longer than expected. (Island Free Press)

A new plan for Buxton calls for rebuilding the beach a year earlier than scheduled and fixing three deteriorating groins to continue to protect property and N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island.

Last year, Hurricane Florence scoured away 11.6 percent of the sand that was pumped onto the beach in 2017, Haiqing Kazckowski of Coastal Science & Engineering said in presentation to the Dare County Baord of Commissioners Monday.

Because the 303,732 cubic yards in losses were the result of a named storm, Dare qualifies for a reimbursement of $5.97 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

CS&E recommended combining a scheduled renourishment project and the FEMA-funded restoration to save money by avoiding two different deployments of dredges, pipelines and other equipment.

The total cost will be $19.8 million.

Starting in May of 2021 instead of 2022 — the original year for renourishment — will give the county a cushion to meet a FEMA deadline for finishing and receiving the reimbursement, Kazckowski. The ultimate deadline is October 2022, but waiting until that summer leaves little room for delays from weather or equipment problems.

High seas and storms preclude doing the work during the winter.

The original project was supposed to be finished in August 2017, but rough weather followed by a month of hurricanes in September led to multiple delays.

In addition to pumping 1 million cubic yards of sand from offshore borrow pits, the lifespan of the reconstructed beach could be extended by fixing three groins, or jetties, that were installed by the Navy in 1970, Kazckowski said.

The jetties are in various states of disrepair, and legislation passed in 2003 prohibits hardened structures on the state’s beaches. But if additional surveying can produce evidence that more than 50 percent of the groins are still viable, they could legally be repaired, Kazckowski said.

Surveying would include using ground-penetrating radar to see how much of the groins might be buried in the beach.

Restoration would require an environmental assessment within six months and a “downdrift impact study” to provide information on whether the groins could cause unacceptable erosion south of the area.

Tim Kana, president of CS&E, said the groins would have to be within the nourishment area and rebuilt lower to allow sand to migrate.

The groins were originally 500 to 600 feet long. Repairing the northernmost one would provide the best protection, but one or both of the others could also be included in the project.

Commissioners approved the updated renourishment plan.

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