Beach-goers in Buxton were likely surprised to notice the return of several large vessels just offshore, roughly a year and a half after the completion of the Buxton Beach Nourishment project in February of 2018.
The revived offshore activity is due to the return of the project’s contractor Weeks Marine, which is in the area this week to remove the remaining subline that was buried beneath the ocean floor during the 2017 / 2018 beach nourishment project.
The work to remove the subline will likely span a few days, but will not impact the local shorelines of Hatteras Island, and is being performed with permission from state and federal agencies, including the National Park Service.
The Buxton Beach Nourishment project was completed on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, after more than 18 months of work and occasional storm interruptions.
The goal of the project, which began in the summer of 2017, was to widen a stretch of beach that extended for 2.94 miles in northern Buxton. A2.6 million cubic yards of sand was deposited on the shoreline from a ridge located 1.7 miles offshore, (a site that was identified and specifically chosen for its sand quality, and consistency with the rest of the local shoreline), and a survey conducted months later found that the shoreline adapted quickly to the influx of sand.
At the Dare County Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting on June 3, the commissioners unanimously approved a $19.8 million project proposed by Coastal Science & Engineering (CSE) to renourish the Buxton Beach Nourishment project area, and to restore the three groins located near the old Lighthouse site in Buxton, which were constructed in 1970.
The maintenance work is slated to be conducted in 2021, with an overall project deadline of Oct. 7, 2022. The goal of the upcoming 2021 work is to achieve maximum longevity of the newly deposited sand, while lowering costs in the long term when it comes to future maintenance.
At the June BOC meeting, Dr. Tim Kana and Dr. Haiqing Kazckowski of CSE – the orchestrators of the original 2017 / 2018 project – noted that there was a total loss of about 342,000 cubic yards of sand after 2018’s Hurricane Florence. Roughly 303,732 cubic yards of this loss was determined to be due to the storm, with the remainder attributed to routine loss that stemmed from chronic erosion.
Because of the storm affiliation, FEMA determined that Dare County was eligible for FEMA and state replacement of the lost sand that was connected to Hurricane Florence. The Outer Banks Sentinel reported in June that the estimate of total costs for the upcoming maintenance project is $19,793,065, with funding 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.
In the meantime, the Weeks Marine vessels will wrap up their work in the coming days, and will effectively remove the last lingering piece of the original 2017 / 2018 Buxton Beach Nourishment work.