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Emergency dune restoration project begins on Sunset Beach as Hurricane Idalia recovery continues

Restoring the sand after Hurricane Idalia

Posted on September 25, 2023

An emergency dune restoration project has begun on Sunset Beach, as the Tampa Bay coastline recovers after Hurricane Idalia.

On Friday, crews started bringing in truckloads of sand to rebuild the dunes on Sunset Beach. Treasure Island officials said this restoration project is desperately needed.

Parts of Sunset Beach are closed until the work is completed.

Crews delivered 100 truckloads of sand on Friday, and will deliver 100 more truckloads on Saturday.

“Starting Monday, that will turn into about 200 truckloads today,” Treasure Island spokesperson Jason Beisel said. “So there will be about 100 in the morning, 100 in the afternoon, and they’ll be coming in waves of about 25.”

After Hurricane Idalia, Beisel said around 60% of the dune system in Sunset Beach was gone.

“As you come out to this beach, you’ve seen it keep shrinking and shrinking,” he said. “And from each storm it just gets littler and littler.

The dune restoration project is part of a larger emergency shoreline stabilization project throughout Pinellas County. Earlier this week, county commissioners approved $21 million for the project, and $6 million is going to Sunset Beach.

“If we don’t have these dunes, then the people that live in this neighborhood are not going to be protected when the next storm comes, because what these dunes do is protect against erosion,” Beisel said. “It does help protect against the storm surge. And after we get the dunes built, we’ll try to plant some vegetation on top because that’ll help keep them in place.”

In total, Beisel said 40,000 cubic yards of sand will be trucked in a spread along Sunset Beach.

“A dump truck comes in and dumps the sand over here,” he said. “And these trucks that are already on the beach, what they do, they pick up that sand, they start taking it down to the areas that they’re working on, and they start building up the dunes and now slowly start moving down this area.”

Beisel said crews will build dunes around four feet high down the beach.

“We’ve got about 65% of the easements signed as of today,” he said. “So we’re still asking those residents that we haven’t been able to get a hold of, or if they have property here to please get in contact with the city. And that is a temporary construction easement. It’s not a perpetual easement with the renourishment.”

He said work on dune restoration will be happening every day except Sundays, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. He said the project will last for around a month.

“We’re all trying to work together and somehow find a solution to get the Army Corps in here and start these featuring nourishment because they’re desperately needed,” Beisel said. “As you can see, the beaches are eroding away. So we need to get this done.”

Beisel said businesses in Sunset Beach are still open while work goes on. He said they’re asking visitors to stay off of the beach.


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