Broken dredge halts East Pass project in Destin

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Posted April 14, 2020

East Pass dredging/Holiday Isle beach restoration work is delayed

DESTIN — City officials learned from a project official on Wednesday that the dredge for the East Pass dredging/Holiday Isle beach restoration project was going to a dry dock in Mobile, Alabama for major repairs.

The repairs are estimated to take about two to three weeks. The dredge could be ready to return the first week of May to complete the estimated five to seven days worth of dredging, Destin spokeswoman Catherine Card said Thursday.

The dredging/beach restoration work involves the dredging of about 250,000 cubic yards of East Pass sand to re-nourish heavily eroded Holiday Isle beaches east of the east jetty in Destin.

Besides bulking up the beaches, the project is expected to make the pass safer and easier to navigate for military vessels, charter fishing boats and other watercraft. The pass was last dredged in 2014.

The current dredging and beach restoration project, anticipated to cost at least $2 million, started in late February and was initially projected to take about 30 days. Mike Hooks LLC, based in Westlake, Louisiana, is the contractor for the project.

At last Monday’s City Council meeting, Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis told his fellow council members about the dredge being in need of repairs.

Jarvis said a couple of local charter fishing boat captains who called him last Monday morning thought the dredging crew was leaving without finishing the project.

But, “The dredge is not leaving” for good, Jarvis said. “They broke the bit and the driveshaft to it.”

He added, “They’re coming back, and they promised they’re going to finish the project.”

The cost of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-led project will be paid for with $1.5 million in federal money and at least $500,000 in Okaloosa County bed-tax revenue.

In addition to the dredge needing repairs, the dredging and beach restoration project has been plagued with other difficulties.

For example, in the past two years, the Corps of Engineers twice agreed to dredge the pass and then reneged on its commitment after sending dredging contractors to other projects instead.

County and Destin officials also have had to overcome legal challenges from several Okaloosa Island residents who opposed all of the dredged sand going to Holiday Isle.

The residents, who view the Holiday Isle beaches as private and inaccessible to the public, unsuccessfully tried to get at least some of the sand placed on Okaloosa Island.

In their defense, local government officials often cite the Inlet Management Plan for the East Pass. The plan calls for the dredged sand to be placed where it’s needed the most. Currently, that is Holiday Isle.

Source: gadsdentimes