March 22, 2016

UPDATE: Buxton nourishment project
has all permits and is out for bids


Dare County's proposed beach nourishment project in north Buxton has now received all of its permits and has been put out for bids from contractors.

The National Park Service issued a special use permit for the project on March 11, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the final permit needed last week -- on March 16.

Last week, the county also invited contractors to submit sealed bits on the project.

The county plans to nourish 2.9 miles of beach from approximately the Canadian Hole to the old site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with 2.6 million cubic yards of sand to protect Highway 12 from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.

The sand to replenish the beach will be dredged from a designated offshore borrow area situated approximately 1.8 miles off the south end of the project area.  

According to the county's request for bids, the borrow area encompasses about 285 acres, and the maximum depth of excavation allowed is 7 feet, including over-dredge.  The maximum volume available in the borrow area is about 3.3 cubic yards of sand.

The request specifies that dredging be done by an ocean-certified hopper and/or cutterhead suction dredge and that the placement, grading, and environmental protection of the project be done according to federal and state permits.

The request for bids stipulates that the work "to the extent practicable" be conducted during the fair weather months.  The county's contractor to plan and oversee the project, Coastal Science & Engineering, says that nourishing the beaches in the storm-prone winter months is both too costly and dangerous.

To that end, the county is requesting two bids. Bid A would requires all work to be accomplished in 2016 between May 1 and Dec. 15.  Bid B requires all work to be done in 2017 by Dec. 15.

Dare County manager Bobby Outten said the county is "cautiously optimistic" that the project can be completed as planned this year.

He said that Tim Kana of Coastal Science & Engineering has been told that the companies that do these projects will not have a hopper dredge available this summer, but several have said they may have a cutterhead dredge available.

Because of the location of the borrow area for the Buxton project, the work can be done by a cutterhead dredge, which is different than the situation in the three Dare County towns with planned nourishment projects.

The towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills had also planned nourishment projects for this summer, but have had to delay them until next year because of the shortage of hopper dredges.  The location of the borrow area for the towns' projects prohibits the use of a cutterhead dredge.

A mandatory pre-bid conference for contractors on the Buxton project is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, in Manteo, followed by a site visit to Buxton.

Sealed bids must be received by 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, at which time the submitted bids will be opened and read aloud in the county administration building in Manteo.

According to the county, the estimated cost of the project is $25 million or $9.62 per cubic yard of sand.  The project will be funded by a combination of the county's beach nourishment fund and revenues generated from a proposed county service district made up of all oceanfront properties in the project area.

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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