March 11, 2016

Dare Commissioners to consider beach nourishment bids for towns

The Dare County Board of Commissioners will meet on Thursday, March 17, at 8:30 a.m. in the Dare County Administration Building in Manteo to review and approve bids received from dredge contractors for the beach nourishment project in the towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk, and  Kill Devil Hills. 

Four bids were opened on March 8 and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company has been identified as the lowest responsible bidder.  The company's bid of $38,596,850 is approximately $4.9 million under budget with work scheduled to begin in April 2017.

This is the second time that this project has been bid.  The first round of bids were rejected because they exceeded budget by almost $5 million. 

The towns also had planned to begin pumping sand onto their beaches this summer, but, because of an extraordinary demand on dredges this summer, no company in the first round of bidding could begin the projects until September. A beach nourishment project in the fall and winter northeaster season in considered too risky, expensive, and unsafe in the waters off the Outer Banks.

Apparently, the towns will have to wait another year if the current lowest responsible bidder is approved by the commissioners.

The towns intend to pay for the nourishment projects with a combination of money from the county's beach nourishment fund and increased taxes on property owners, with oceanfront owners paying the most.  The beach nourishment fund in turn gets its money from a 2 percent county occupancy tax on accommodations.

Dare County also hopes to start a long-awaited, much-anticipated dredging project in north Buxton this summer, also paid for mostly by the beach nourishment fund.

However, the Buxton project, to nourish 2.9 miles of beach from approximately the Canadian Hole to the old site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to protect Highway 12, does not even have all the permits that it needs yet to be put out for bid -- though it expects to have them soon.

The demand on dredges and the over-budget bids by contractors on the town projects is a concern for county officials, property owners, and island residents who want to see the Buxton project finished by next fall.

The county's timeline for the Buxton project is ambitious -- permitting in early April or so, projects put out for bid in late April, and bids approved and work starting by late May or June.

The commissioners have also set a public hearing for 10 a.m. on Monday, April 4, on its proposal to establish a tax service district that would include the 34 oceanfront property owners who would benefit from the nourishment project.  Those property owners would be expected to pay increased taxes to help fund the beach restoration.

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