Posted on April 29, 2021
EMERALD ISLE — After almost exactly three months, the 9.4-mile-long Emerald Isle beach nourishment projected ended early Monday morning, with the exception of planting vegetation on new dunes, which is set to commence next week.
The Liberty Island, one of two Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. vessels working on the project, delivered its last load of sand via pipeline to the strand in the eastern end of town at about 6 a.m. Monday. The other vessel on the project, the Ellis Island, finished its work Sunday night, transporting a load of sand from the borrow site in the ocean off Atlantic Beach.
“This has been a great project and we’re still on schedule to begin planting next week,” Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, said in an email Monday.
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., based in Illinois, is removing all of its equipment from the beach, hauling it up the vehicular beach access ramp on Ocean Drive and loading it onto flatbed trucks.
The Eastern Ocean Regional Access, the site of the last phase of the work, was closed over the weekend, but reopened Tuesday.
Emerald Isle town manager Matt Zapp said the county, its engineers and the contractor executed the project well and Emerald Isle is pleased with the results, including a more storm-resistant strand.
“Visitors have an even more beautiful beach to enjoy,” he said.
The work delivered 2.015 million cubic yards of sand to the beaches of Emerald Isle.
Mr. Rudolph praised not only Great Lakes for finishing the $31.6 million project four days earlier than the environmental deadline specified in the contract, but also property owners, residents, visitors and rental companies.
“We’re very cognizant of the impacts of a 24-hours/7-days-a-week oceanfront construction project,” he said.
The project ends three years of nourishment from one end of Bogue Banks to the other, from western Atlantic Beach on the eastern end of the island to Bogue Inlet at the western tip of Emerald Isle. All the individual projects were designed to replace sand swept away during Hurricane Florence in 2018.
Mr. Rudolph said Monday he feels good about the effects of the three projects – conducted in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – on protection of the beaches that drive the local economy.
“I feel great about our protection level for a moderate hurricane,” he said. “We replaced the dunes lost in Florence, replaced the volume of sand lost in Florence and added sand into the system on top of that,” he said. “Our vegetation line, dune health and sand volume in the entire profile was really healthy before Florence and we had some storms in the preceding years where that type of protection did its job.”
Before the last three years, Mr. Rudolph said, “Indian Beach was last nourished in 2007, and places in Emerald Isle (central especially) were last nourished in 2003. So Florence really did a number where other hurricanes since the 2005 hurricane season, or Irene in 2011 did not really hurt those areas.”
Although no more beach nourishment projects are on the horizon for Bogue Banks, he said annual sand monitoring programs will continue, as the monitoring is the linchpin of the county’s program.
The total cost of the three projects is about $85 million, with about $51 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and roughly $34 million split almost equally between money from the county’s occupancy tax revenues and state grants.
Phase one, in 2019, covered a portion of eastern Emerald Isle, all of Indian Beach and most of Salter Path. Phase two, in 2020, covered western Atlantic Beach, all of Pine Knoll Shores, the remainder of Salter Path and some of western Emerald Isle.
The just-completed project, phase three, covered almost all of Emerald Isle.
A separate federal project, using material dredged from channels at N.C. Port of Morehead City, placed sand in Fort Macon State Park and eastern Atlantic Beach recently.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.