PLEASURE ISLAND — Areas on Carolina and Kure beaches will be closed in coming weeks as sand is pumped onto its shoreline. The Wilmington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced its coastal storm risk management project officially will begin Friday.
Essentially, the beach nourishment project rebuilds shorelines and protects them from erosion often induced by coastal storms. Priming the coast with more sand also protects private properties and helps prepare beaches for increased recreation and entertainment ahead of tourism season.
In January a $20.3-million contract was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company to move forward on the nourishment project. It came after a year of uncertainty in funding, as partial federal money was appropriated for area beach towns in the USACE work plan at the end of 2020. However, by the beginning of 2021, the funding disappeared — and to the dismay of local leaders.
Last November U.S. Rep. David Rouzer helped arrange the money to keep the Carolina and Kure beach projects on schedule. Renourishment is supposed to happen on Pleasure Island every three years and the timeline will remain on track, as the last project took place in 2019. Work will begin in this new cycle on Feb. 25 and will last up to five weeks, according to a release from the USACE.
To renourish the beaches, construction crews will be drawing sand offshore from the Atlantic, which has always been the mode of operation for Kure Beach renourishment projects. In the past, Carolina Beach retrieved sand from the Carolina Beach Inlet; however, federal guidelines changed last year preventing those practices from continuing.
The USACE launched a sand placement tracker so visitors can view where construction is taking place during the sand-moving process. It will help people better navigate opened or closed areas on Carolina and Kure beaches.
Equipment, such as bulldozers and an ocean dredge, as well as materials, such as piping, already are staged beachside and around the Hamlet Street access, according to the USACE. Great Lakes also will place piping adjacent to the Sandpiper Beach access, where the nourishment process is expected to launch.
Sections of pipe will be laid in a northern direction and pump sand from the ocean to the beach. It will end north of the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier, before the process repeats in the southern direction into Kure Beach, the USACE noted in a release.
The project could wrap by the end of March, pending no weather delays or technical and mechanical issues with equipment. By its completion, Great Lakes will have dispersed 865,000 cubic yards of beach-quality sand on Carolina Beach and 920,000 cubic yards in Kure Beach.
“Our engineered beach has proven to be a cost-effective method for protecting our coastal infrastructure,” Carolina Beach Mayor Lynn Barbee said in a statement last month.
Visitors are instructed to avoid construction areas, which will be roped off with fencing and have signs informing the public to not enter. The USACE suggested anyone crossing over a pipe do so on the makeshift ramp created by piles of sand rather than walk on the exposed tube.
Also, it suggests visitors:
• Keep a safe distance from all heavy equipment
• Avoid sitting on the pipe
• Keep a safe distance from the discharging end of the pipe
• Read and follow signs and instructions given by contractor personnel
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