The Dare County Board of Commissioners (BOC) unanimously passed a resolution at their February 6 meeting to take the first steps towards a dredging project in Avon Harbor, which will also result in beach nourishment for the Canadian Hole and Kite Point soundside shorelines.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $1.6 million in funds for the dredging of Avon Harbor and the adjacent channel, but unlike the Corps’ past dredging projects, (such as in Oregon or Hatteras Inlets), there is not a clear disposal site for dredge material in the immediate Avon village area.
As a result, Dare County and other government agencies, (including the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the National Park Service), have formulated a plan to transport the dredged material from Avon Harbor to the nearby soundside beaches between Avon and Buxton.
The Corps will orchestrate the dredging – which will entail a bucket-and-barge operation instead of a pipeline dredge due to the lack of an adjacent disposal site – while the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will assist with obtaining permits, and performing the soundside beach nourishment.
Meanwhile, Dare County will be responsible for the transportation of the material from Avon to Canadian Hole and Kite Point, as well as the initial Vibracore sampling, (a state-of-art sediment sampling process), to ensure that the material is safe and can be used to bolster the soundside area.
“Obviously, this material will be placed on a beach that is used by the public, so we need to make sure there are [no issues], like heavy metals, and petroleum. That is the first hurdle,” said Barton Grover, Dare County Grants & Waterways Administrator. “If the Vibracore sampling comes out bad, we’ll have to reassess this project.”
An estimated $160,000 is required from Dare County for Vibracore sampling and trucking costs once the project is underway, and a Shallow Draft Navigation Application will be submitted to receive a 75% state match, (or up to $120,000), of the required funds. At Monday’s BOC meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution to sponsor the project, and to authorize the County Manager to execute the necessary budget amendment upon award.
Grover expects the Vibracore sampling to be performed in March, and based on those results, the Corps will start accepting contractor bids for the dredging project in the summer of 2023.
If all aspects of the multi-faceted dredging and nourishment project align, dredging in Avon Harbor will begin in the winter of 2023/2024.
The dredging is expected to deepen Avon Harbor and the first mile of the channel to 6’ feet, while up to 25,000 cubic yards of sand will be deposited in between Avon and Buxton as a result of the project.
Unlike other oceanfront beach nourishment projects in the county, which are funded through the county’s Beach Nourishment Fund, the soundside nourishment is more of a beneficial side effect of the dredging event, instead of the primary goal.
“We needed to have a nearby site to deposit materials, and there was not one close to the harbor, but this allows us to essentially do a soundside beach nourishment project in the process,” said Grover.
The end result will be a deeper and easier-to-navigate Avon Harbor, as well as better protection for N.C. Highway 12, the power lines, the water line that runs in between Avon and Buxton villages, and the popular soundside beaches themselves.
“This project will be beneficial to a lot of different people and entities,” said Grover. “It’s beneficial to the NCDOT, Cape Hatteras Electric, the kiteboarders and recreational users of the soundside beaches, and the commercial and recreational fishermen who use Avon Harbor.”
To view Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting in its entirety, click here.
To see the Dare County Board of Commissioners resolution regarding Avon Harbor, click here.