Buxton Beach Nourishment project was completed on Tuesday, February 27,
with 100% of the 2.6 million cubic yards of sand deposited on the 2.9
miles of Buxton beach.
The completion of the project was roughly a week
or two ahead of schedule, and was announced to involved parties and
stakeholders at a Wednesday morning meeting in Buxton.
“Yesterday was a big day, as it was the last day
of pumping,” said Dr. Haiqing Liu Kaczkowski, Senior Coastal Engineer
for Coastal Science and Engineering (CSE). “A week ago, they were 92%
complete. Everybody thought it would take another week or two [to
finish], but then we got good news.”
The contractor, Weeks Marine, had logged in more
than 114 hours of work in recent days, and had been breaking records on
the amount of dredging completed during the project.
Alberto Saavedra of Weeks Marine said that the
crew would be removing all equipment from the beach over the next three
days, before forecasted severe weather arrives over the weekend
“Hopefully by this weekend, all of the beach will be released to the public except for a small footprint,” he said.
The only elements from the project remaining will
be two sublines, as the contractor will be unable to remove those
before the bad weather arrives. However, Saavedra noted that crews
would be patrolling the subline areas to ensure they are not impacted
by any upcoming rough seas and winds.
The final steps will be restoring the beach to
its pre-construction state, leveling the recently deposited sand, and
possible tilling depending on the results of a pending compaction test.
National Park Service and Dare County
representatives also discussed the possibility of adding county-funded
sand fencing and vegetation (or “sprigging”) along the project area to
protect the newly deposited sand.
“We asked Haiqing [and CSE] to come up with a
plan for fencing and sprigging,” said County Manager Bobby Outten.
“Assuming all goes well, it’s our intention to do just that.”
“This is a $22 million dollar investment, and we want to protect it,” added Dare County Commissioner Chairman, Bob Woodard.
Though possible Dare County-sponsored sand
fencing is in the initial discussion stages, Kaczkowski noted that
installing sand fencing was an important step for affected homeowners
and stakeholders. “Sand fencing will help stabilize the dunes, so it’s
a smart move,” she said. “It will protect your investment.”
In the meantime, both CSE and Weeks Marine were
anticipating getting all equipment removed from the beach, so that the
Buxton shoreline would get “back to normal.”
“We’re anxious about getting everything cleared
out, and getting back to normal, so it looks like nothing has
occurred,” said Dr. Timothy W. Kana, President of CSE. “We’ll still
have natural rhythmic variations along the beach,” he added, noting
that upcoming storms would shift the geography of the shoreline, “and
that’s something we will be monitoring. With each project, we learn
“Our goal is for people not to recognize this as an unnatural beach,” he said.
The weekend’s forecasted windy weather, with
gusts of up to 40-45 mph and high seas, will be a bit of a test, but
will also speed up the adjustments that will transform the shoreline
from unnaturally wide to more in-line with the other shorelines on
“What we’re trying to do is keep as much water
off the highway as we can,” said Dare County Commissioner Danny Couch.
“We’ve had two tests [of severe weather] so far, and it’s doing its
Dare County and NPS representatives also thanked
CSE and Weeks Marine for sticking with the project through its
completion. The Buxton Beach Nourishment project was originally
intended to last until August, but rough weather in the summer and
fall, as well as a month of hurricanes in September, lead to multiple
“We’ve had struggles since the beginning, and
some angst, but we’re very appreciative of the job you’ve done,” said
Commissioner Chairman Woodard. “Thank you for staying on it, and for
staying with it. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s certainly
needed for Buxton folks.”