Friday, April 19, 2024

County to consider $6.5 million contract to dredge Mason Inlet, sand will be sold to Figure Eight for beaches

The county is planning to dredge the Mason Inlet in 2020 (Port City Daily/File)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — For nearly 20 years New Hanover County and the Mason Inlet Preservation Group (MIPG) have managed the Mason Inlet dredging and once again a project is in the works.

The last dredging of the inlet took place in 2016 and a new dredging is planned for 2020 that will “remove sand that has shoaled within the template since the most recent 2016 maintenance event,” according to a New Hanover County Commissioner’s agenda for its Dec. 2 meeting.

Dredging is big business, with multi-million governmental contracts on the line, but when the county opened up the project for bids, it only received two bid packages. That was problematic because in order to open a project’s first advertisement, three bid packages are required, according to county documents.

This led the county to return the bids and re-advertised the project in late October. This time, four bid packages were received, however, three of those were considered non-responsive leaving only one responsible bidder — Weeks Marine.

That bid was for $6.57 million.

Fortunately for taxpayers, Figure 8 Island and MIPG North Wrightsville Beach will pay about half of the project costs with Figure 8 paying $2.06 million, MIPG North Wrightsville Beach paying $1.50 million, and the Shallow Draft Inlet Grant covering the additional $3 million.

The sand that is dredged will be reused to help nourish the beaches, however, not many people will get to see the benefits of the sands since for this event, Figure 8 Island is purchasing the sand, according to Layton Bedsole, the county’s shore protection coordinator

“For this event, Figure Eight will purchase the sand; however, county permits allow for beneficial reuse along northern Wrightsville Beach if maintenance volumes economically justify the beneficial reuse location,” Bedsole said.

In September, the county applied for funding from Shallow Draft Inlet Fund through the N.C. Division of Water Resources and was awarded $3.8 million for the project.

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