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Council approves $21 million beach renourishment project

The Town of Fort Myers Beach Council awarded a $21.7 contract to Ahtnah Marine and Construction Company for a beach renourishment project which will bring 949,000 cubic yards of new sand to the beach.

Posted on May 8, 2024

The Town of Fort Myers Beach Council voted unanimously Monday to award the beach renourishment contract to Ahtnah Marine and Construction Company, of Boynton Beach.

The company was the lowest bidder for the project, with a bid of $21.7 million for the work.

The project will entail beach restoration to approximately 6.5 miles of what the town considers to be “critically eroded” beach. The last beach restoration project took place in 2011.

Since Hurricane Ian, the town has embarked on two other projects related to addressing its eroded beaches, including an ongoing sand haul project and an emergency berm that was installed after Hurricane Ian.

Fort Myers Beach Environmental Project Manager Chadd Chustz said the project will bring 949,000 cubic yards of new sand to the beach.

Town of Fort Myers Beach Attorney Becky Vose said the town has received a notice of a bid protest and the town hasn’t yet received a bond.

Vose said the project will go forward despite the protest due to the importance of the project before the onset of hurricane season. “It’s legally sufficient to allow you to proceed in light of the protest,” Vose said.

Lee County will provide 90% of its share up front as part of an interlocal agreement which county commissioners approved Tuesday.

Lee County spokesperson Timothy Engstrom said the county will ultimately fund up to $9.2 million of the project through the county’s tourist development tax.

The north-central project segment will extend from Bowditch Point to near Lanark Avenue. The south segment will extend from near Creciente Condominium to Sun Caper Condominium.

The Town has obtained funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for 100% for the South Segment and 41.7% of the North-Central Segment, Engstrom said.

As the town’s sand haul project draws to a close, a new beach renourishment project is set to start.

Chustz did not respond as of press time to questions regarding the town’s share of the funding for the project, or to clarify other sources of funding.

The county’s contribution from the tax on short-term lodging is to offer storm protection for County beach parks and recreational benefits for shorelines accessible to the general public according to Florida DEP standards.

On Tuesday, Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman Lee County Department of Natural Resources and Public Works Operations Manager Steve Boutelle how the beach renourishment work would be conducted.

Boutelle said contractors and the town would be closing between 500 to 1,000 feet of the beach at a time for safety reasons as the work proceeds. Pipelines delivering sand that is dredged, will have sand ramps, Boutelle said.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection Permit conditions prohibit construction in the Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area between March 1 and November 1 for sea turtle and shorebird nesting.

Chustz did not immediately respond to questions about how the critical wildlife area would be impacted.

In early 2023, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a Joint Coastal Permit and Submerged Lands Authorization, which expires in January 2038. The permit was modified to authorize a one-time placement of approximately 15,000 cubic yards of beach compatible material above the Mean High Water line on the southern end of Estero Island to offset the observed storm loss in this section of the island, which has not been restored previously. In addition, a second offshore burrow area was added to the project scope to provide ample sand resources for future renourishment projects, according to the town.

The US Army Corps of Engineers permit for the beach renourishment project was issued in November.

The work is expected to begin in June and be completed by the end of October.


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