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Town Neck Beach To Receive 300,000 Cubic Yards Of Sand

Posted on June 17, 2024

More sand is coming to Town Neck Beach. Next winter 320,000 cubic yards of sand will be dredged from Scusset Beach and planted on Town Neck Beach.

The project is a step toward repairing “a historic mistake,” said Senator Edward J. Markey during a visit to the beach last Friday, June 7.

The Cape Cod Canal was dug in the early 1900s and purchased by the US Army Corps of Engineers shortly after in 1927. During construction, jetties were built along both sides of the canal mouth. These jetties were designed to keep sand from flowing into the canal and blocking passage.

The jetty is good at its job; however, it has an unfortunate side effect. Blocking sand from entering the canal also prevents sand from drifting down the coast to Town Neck and other beaches.

Sand does not naturally stay in one place. In a natural environment, wind and waves will carry sand from place to place. The jetty in place blocks Scusset Beach sand from flowing over to Town Neck, effectively starving the beach.

“This one particular beach has a problem largely because of an engineering mistake that was [made] decades ago,” Sen. Markey said. “This beach is an Army Corps responsibility in the same way the Bourne and Sagamore bridges are, and they’ve stepped up to get the job done.”

Town staff, army engineers, and elected officials have been working to restore the beach for some time now and have recently made progress. This past winter, roughly 100 cubic yards of sand was placed on the beach.

Sandwich Director of Natural Resources David J. DeConto has previously said that adding 300,000 cubic yards could restore the beach to what it looked like 50 years ago.

“Cape Cod is known for two things: two bridges and beaches, and they want both of them to be preserved,” Sen. Markey said.

Sen. Markey said that shortly after he was first elected to the Senate in 2014, he received a call from some Sandwich residents expressing concern with the impact the jetty was having on the beach and asked him to intervene.

In 2016, the Army Corps began studying the canal and the jetty’s impact. In 2021, the Cape Cod Canal and Sandwich Beaches Section 111 Shore Damage Mitigation Study was completed, and it was decided that replenishing the beach with dredged sand would be the solution.

Sen. Markey added that his efforts with the water resources development increased the limit for Section 111 projects to $15 million, which will allow the dredging work to occur.

“We’re going to be able to take the sand from the opposite side of the jetty and renourish the beach here,” said Colonel Justin R. Pabis, New England District commander and district engineer.

Mr. Dunham said that since it was created in the 1970s, Section 111 has only authorized 30 projects across the country. It was an honor that Sandwich was selected, especially for such an important project that the town has been working on for years.

“It is something that we sent a letter to the Army Corps about 20 years ago. It’s been two decades of work to get us here today,” said Town Manager George H. (Bud) Dunham.

The Corps is preparing to put the project out to bid and will select a dredging company within the next few months. However, due to state environmental regulations protecting wildlife, dredging work will not begin until next winter.

Project manager Jordan Macy said the work should not take long to complete. A good team can dredge around 100 cubic yards a month, so the just over 300-cubic-yards project should not take more than three months.

The project should be complete by mid-March of next year; however, protecting the beach will need to become a continuous effort.

As the sand naturally drifts down to other beaches and is washed away by heavy winter storms, it will have to be replaced. As long as the jetty remains and continues to prevent sand from moving on its own, town staff and elected officials will need to continue working with the Corps to dredge sand and replenish the beach.

Col. Pabis said the Corps was not looking to make any structural changes to the jetty. While the jetty does prevent sand from naturally flowing down the coastline to Town Neck and other beaches, it does do its job in preventing sand from entering the canal.

In addition to visibly increasing the size of the beach and providing more space for beachgoers to enjoy, the project is a major step toward protecting the environment.

Assistant Director of Natural Resources Joshua K. Wrigley said that the project would create more space for beachgoers and the animals that call the dunes home. Nourishing the beach with more sand would expand the habitat and protect the marsh and all its creatures.

Sand dredged and placed last winter has already had a positive impact on the area and will only continue to improve the conditions of the marsh.

“We’ve started to see a lot more birds in the area, which is a good start,” Col. Pabis said.

Markey Visits Town Neck

Markey Visits Town Neck


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