Posted on June 7, 2022
Beachgoers will share space in the sand with heavy equipment along parts of the Outer Banks this summer as beach nourishment projects get underway to slow erosion along the storm-swept barrier island chain.
Starting in Kill Devil Hills this month and continuing through fall in Duck, Southern Shores and Kitty Hawk, Dare County and the four towns are working together to widen nearly 12 miles of shoreline as part of a plan to add sand to depleted beaches every five years. Nourishment was last completed in 2017.
Beach nourishment for Kitty Hawk is expected to begin in early July, covering nearly four miles of shoreline from the Southern Shores to Kill Devil Hills line. In Southern Shores, the work stretches over 3.8 miles of beach from the Kitty Hawk to Duck lines, with a start date in early August. In Duck, the work takes place over 1.6 miles of shoreline, from the Army Corps of Engineering pier north to Skimmer Way, starting in mid-September.
Also getting underway this month in Avon on Hatteras Island, more than a million cubic yards of sand will be placed along the oceanfront from near Avon Pier at Due East Road to the village boundary, about 2.5 miles away. It’s the first time Avon will undergo beach nourishment, and the project will initially widen the shoreline by about 100 feet.
Work is set to begin with the June 14 arrival of the dredge, named Liberty Island, the National Park Service said. During the project, Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s off-road vehicle Ramp 38 will remain open, but visitors can expect some intermittent, short-term delays entering and exiting the ramp as equipment is moved. The parking lot at Ramp 38 will be closed this summer. The project is expected to last 40 to 60 days.
In January, Dare commissioners awarded a $28.9 million contract to Weeks Marine for the work on the northern Outer Banks, along with a $25.8 million bid to another contractor for two projects on Hatteras Island, the Avon widening and maintenance on a 2019 nourishment project in Buxton.
The county awarded the $25.8 million bid to the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., the same company that completed nourishment in northern Outer Banks towns in 2017.
The Buxton beach nourishment project, done once before in February 2018, includes 2.9 miles of shoreline from north of Buxton to the beachfront near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The project is expected to begin in mid-July and is expected to last 40 to 60 days.
Dare County is establishing an Avon tax district to pay for its part of the projects, charging an extra 40 cents per $100 of value on homes on the oceanside of N.C. 12 and an additional 10-cent tax for other properties. Avon property owners will pay about half the local project cost, while the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund, which is funded with occupancy tax on lodging, will pay the other half.
The Town of Nags Head is planning a separate beach restoration project to replace sand lost during 2019′s Hurricane Dorian, with a start date in early August and continuing through September. The Nags Head Board of Commissioners awarded the $11.5 million bid to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock.
The project will place sand on 4.45 miles of beach in south Nags Head, from Jennette’s Pier and stretching south to the town limits abutting Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Nags Head is creating four additional municipal service taxing districts to pay for the beach nourishment, bringing the town’s total municipal service districts to six.
“Because beach nourishment maintains a healthy and attractive recreational beach, protects infrastructure like roads, water lines, sewage systems, electrical services, and beach accesses, while also protecting properties on and adjacent to the oceanfront, every Nags Head property owner realizes benefits,” Mayor Ben Cahoon said.
Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management granted Dare County access to up to 6.6 million cubic yards of sand from the Outer Continental Shelf to restore 11.6 miles of beaches from Duck to Kill Devil Hills.
Outer Banks beaches drive about $1.4 billion in tourism spending each year, with the year-round population of about 37,000 swelling to as many as 300,000 at times during summer months.
But more frequent and powerful storms along the coast, coupled with sea level rise, have led to greater demand for offshore sand to restore and protect coastal communities and habitats, BOEM officials said.
For more information about this year’s beach nourishment projects, see morebeachtolove.com.