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Port dredging, nourishment along Atlantic Beach to start in December

This Carteret County Shore Protection Office graphic shows where dredging will take place, beginning in late December, at the N.C. Port of Morehead City. (Contributed graphic)

Posted on December 1, 2020

ATLANTIC BEACH — Dredging of channels at the State Port of Morehead City and beach nourishment in Atlantic Beach will begin before the end of December, with initial mobilization of personnel and equipment to the harbor and beach early in the month.

Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, which manages dredging projects, said Monday the office gave contractor Weeks Marine of New Jersey notice to proceed.

He added he expects the project to be complete by the end of March. The environmental window – designed to protect sea turtles, mostly – closes Friday, April 30, so all the work must be finished by then.

“The total estimated volume of shoal material to be dredged is 1,143,000 cubic yards,” Mr. Rudolph said in an email. “As a mental image, a loaded dump truck can hold roughly 12 cubic yards (wet) or possibly 15 cubic yards (dry) of sand.”

Essentially, the project will place 76,000 to 95,000 dump truck loads of sand on the beach.

Generally, eastern Atlantic Beach and Fort Macon State Park get this sand every three years.

Weeks, Mr. Rudolph said, will use a cutterhead-suction pipeline dredge, the J.S. Chatry, for the 2020-21 dredging and beach nourishment event, and the sand will be placed on the strand at the park and eastern Atlantic Beach.

Per a longstanding agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which funds dredging to keep the port accessible to large vessels, the town gets the sand free. The total cost of the federal project is $18,086,750. It’s free to Atlantic Beach because it’s the closest place to deposit the dredged sand.

According to Mr. Rudolph, a cutterhead-suction dredge utilizes a crane on a barge that positions the cutterhead, which looks like a gigantic drill bit, along the seafloor. The cutterhead agitates the sandy bottom, and the resulting slurry of sediment and water is suctioned into a long tube transitioning into a pipeline that can be extended to a specific target area, in the case the beach.

Pipeline dredges are usually not self-powered, but are towed to the dredging site and secured in place by special anchor pilings, called spuds.

Additionally, Mr. Rudolph said a water-based booster pump will be used to provide additional power to pump dredged sand for a maximum distance of approximately 4.25 miles, extending from the channel westward to near The Circle development district.

Project engineers use stations along the beach to monitor nourishment progress and to verify in-place volumes of sand placed on the beach by dredging contractors.

Unlike recent nourishment projects on Bogue Banks, this one won’t include building new dunes, just widening and heightening the recreational beach. Both methods protect oceanfront structures during hurricanes and other storms.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

Source: carolinacoastonline

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