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Dare moves toward Avon Harbor dredging project

The 2023-2024 winter dredging will result in Avon Harbor depths of 6 feet.

Posted on February 13, 2023

The Dare County Board of Commissioners have unanimously approved a resolution to take the first steps toward a dredging project in Avon Harbor that will result in beach nourishment for the Canadian Hole and Kite Point soundside shorelines.

The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $1.6 million in funds to dredge Avon Harbor and the adjacent channel, but unlike the Corps’ past dredging projects, such as in Oregon or Hatteras inlets, there is not a clear disposal site for dredge material in the immediate Avon village area.

As a result, Dare County and other government agencies, including the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the National Park Service, have formulated a plan to transport the dredged material from Avon Harbor to the nearby soundside beaches between Avon and Buxton.

The dredging is expected to deepen Avon Harbor and the first mile of the channel to 6 feet, while up to 25,000 cubic yards of sand will be deposited in between Avon and Buxton as a result of the project.

The Corps will orchestrate the dredging, which will entail a bucket-and-barge operation instead of a pipeline dredge due to the lack of an adjacent disposal site, while the North Carolina Department of Transportation will assist with obtaining permits, and performing the soundside beach nourishment.

Dare County will be responsible for the transportation of the material from Avon to Canadian Hole and Kite Point, as well as the initial vibracore, a sediment sampling method, to ensure that the material is safe and can be used to bolster the soundside area.

“Obviously, this material will be placed on a beach that is used by the public, so we need to make sure there are (no issues), like heavy metals, and petroleum. That is the first hurdle,” said Dare County Grants and Waterways Administrator Barton Grover. “If the vibracore sampling comes out bad, we’ll have to reassess this project.”

An estimated $160,000 is required from Dare County for vibracore sampling and trucking costs once the project is underway, and a Shallow Draft Navigation Fund application will be submitted to receive a 75% state match, or up to $120,000, of the required funds.

During the meeting Monday, commissioners approved a resolution to sponsor the project and to authorize the county manager to make the necessary budget amendment.

Grover expects the sampling to be performed in March, and based on those results, the Corps will start accepting contractor bids for the dredging project in the summer of 2023.

If all aspects of the multifaceted dredging and nourishment project align, dredging in Avon Harbor will begin in winter 2023-24.

Unlike other oceanfront beach nourishment projects in the county, which are funded through the county’s Beach Nourishment Fund, the soundside nourishment is more of a beneficial side effect of the dredging event, instead of the primary goal.

“We needed to have a nearby site to deposit materials, and there was not one close to the harbor, but this allows us to essentially do a soundside beach nourishment project in the process,” Grover said.

The end result will be a deeper and easier-to-navigate Avon Harbor, as well as better protection for N.C. Highway 12, the power lines, the water line that runs in between Avon and Buxton villages, and the popular soundside beaches themselves.

“This project will be beneficial to a lot of different people and entities,” Grover said. “It’s beneficial to the NCDOT, Cape Hatteras Electric, the kiteboarders and recreational users of the soundside beaches, and the commercial and recreational fishermen who use Avon Harbor.”


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