Posted on December 14, 2020
The deed is done, but more will come.
A $17 million sand replenishment project, which started July 8 near 77th Street in Holmes Beach and spanned 5.5 miles to its termination at Longboat Pass, was complete as of Dec. 3.
But a future project to restore sand lost in 2017 to Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Hermine also is in the works.
The completed 2020 project, which involved pumping 1.1 million cubic yards of sand from borrow areas via a dredge about a quarter-mile offshore, paused several times for storms Laura, Sally, Delta, Zeta and Eta during what was considered by the National Weather Service to be among the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record.
Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County parks and natural resources director, told The Islander Dec. 3 that the partnership between the county and contractor Marinex Construction of Charleston, South Carolina, “was stellar.”
“The front-facing staff of Marinex have been the best I have worked with since we started beach renourishment in 1992,” Hunsicker said.
He added that the relationship between the county, Marinex and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, the nonprofit that manages sea turtle and shorebird nesting on island beaches each summer, was vital to the success of the project.
Hunsicker also said the sand-sorting equipment was new technology provided by a subcontractor of Marinex, which allowed for faster and smoother processing of fresh sand on the beach.
Previously, the sand went through a screen that had to be checked and replaced throughout the project.
“The cages at the ends of the pipes had to be replaced and it slowed everything down by about 30% compared to this project,” Hunsicker said.
A similar sand replenishment project is planned for February 2021, according to Hunsicker.
About 75,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed at Coquina Beach to compensate for sand lost during Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Hermine in 2017.
The sand will be pulled from Longboat Pass — a win-win for the island, Hunsicker said.
“This will reestablish the full dimensions of that channel for boaters, while at the same time providing sand for our beaches,” he said. “People have had to be patient with this whole process. But, in the end, it is the best for us all.”
The view looking north near 17th Street in Bradenton Beach Sept. 23 shows the beach widened by about 250 feet. The dredge pipe pushes sand pumped by a dredge about a quarter-mile offshore of the north end of Anna Maria Island to the beaches.