At its June 3 meeting, the Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a $19.8 million project proposed by Coastal Science & Engineering (CSE) to renourish the beaches worked on in the 2017 Buxton Beach Nourishment Project and restore three groins there.
In their presentation, CSE’s Dr. Tim Kana and Dr. Haiqing Kazckowski reviewed the impact of Hurricane Florence in 2018, after which there was a total loss of about 342,000 cubic yards of sand. A total of 303,732 cubic yards of loss was determined to be due to the storm, with the remainder due to “average loss” due to chronic erosion, and FEMA found the county eligible for FEMA and state replacement of the lost sand attributable to Florence.
The speakers explained that the three groins in Buxton were constructed in 1970, before the state imposed its 2003 ban on “hard structures,” and that restoration of the already existing structures would be allowed as long as they maintain at least 50% functionality. With a visual inspection already done, final determination of this will require a multi-beam hydro survey and ground penetrating radar survey.
Combining beach renourishment with restoration of the groins, they explained, will achieve maximum longevity, with lower costs in the long-run for further maintenance. The overall project deadline will be Oct. 7, 2022, with plans to complete the work one year in advance of that date to have “one year reserved as a contingency.”
The estimate of total costs for the project is $19,793,065. Funding is to be provided by Dare County ($14,010,198 in Series 2021 limited obligation bonds), $4,337,150 by the FEMA federal share and $1,445,717 by the FEMA state share.
Dare Finance Director David Clawson explained that the beach was originally scheduled for a five-year monitoring and maintenance project in 2022. But he added that it made sense financially to combine the maintenance project and FEMA replacement project and move it from 2022 to 2021.
At the June 3 meeting, the board also heard from consultant Brent Lane, who presented a report on the impacts of modernizing the Dare County Regional Airport. He recommended extending the primary runway from its current 4,300 feet to 5,800 feet. The estimated cost would be $30 million, of which $27 million would be paid for by state and federal funding, leaving only a “modest” cost to Dare County of $3 million.
Lane envisioned the project producing a 50% expansion in the airport’s economic impacts, increasing its current 513 jobs to 770, further diversifying the local economy and increasing the county’s connectivity to the world. Following the presentation, Board Chairman Bob Woodard said the board would carefully consider the proposal.