PHOTOSFROMTHEAIR.COM | SUN
Longer than a city block, the California is positioned over the
renourishment borrow area just west of Anna Maria Island.
HOLMES BEACH – The renourishment of 2013-14 is underway.
The pipes are set, the bulldozers are on the sand shaping the new beach and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock has its renourishment dredge, the California, in the water next to the borrow area, sucking water and sand through a pipe headed for shore.
The extra pipes needed for the project are being stored at Manatee Public Beach for now and will be brought to the site when needed. According to Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker, the renourishment will go north at first, to cover beaches up to about 73rd Street.
Then they will take it south until they reach the end of the first project at Cortez Beach. That’s the main part of the project, and it will cost around $13 million. The next portion will cover Cortez Beach, at a cost of $3 million. It will also include rebuilding the three groins off Cortez and Coquina Beaches. Those groins have been in disrepair for years and the public has been banned from using them.
This renourishment is the latest in a series of projects stretching back to 1992. That project covered the central portion of the north-south beach along the Gulf of Mexico, and it was a learning process, according to Hunsicker.
“The project was 100 percent Corps of Engineers,” he said. “They got the sand from offshore of Bradenton Beach, and it was full of rocks and shells and it wasn’t very white.”
At that time, the county had hired Coastal Planning and Engineering to monitor the project and the senior vice president, Rick Spadoni, along with Hunsicker, decided they didn’t want another project with that kind of sand.
“Coastal Planning found a good source of sand north and west of the Island, the same place we are using now,” Hunsicker said. “It’s a good place with soft sand, and it replenishes quickly.”
Over the past 20 years, projects have been conducted in 2002, 2005-06 and 2011. The expanse of the renourishment has widened to include Cortez and Coquina Beaches, as well as Anna Maria, which bowed out of the initial project because beachfront landowners were afraid of losing ownership rights.
In the 1992-93 project, one Bradenton Beach condominium building owner refused to participate over the same fears, and they proceeded to renourish on both sides of his beach, which left him with a large lake of salt water that soon turned foul. He relented and had to pay the extra expense of going back to fill in his beach.
For now, beachfront properties will hear the noise of earth moving equipment on the beach, but the project is expected to progress down the coastline so that they will be gone within a day or two, if all goes as planned.