Two dredging projects are clearing the way for boats and ships and enhancing beaches on Oak Island and Bald Head Island. The larger effort to maintain the Wilmington Harbor shipping channel is expected to wind down by the end of March, officials report.
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock is pulling sand from the Cape Fear River channel and placing it along South Beach on Bald Head Island. Originally, officials hoped that the roughly 1.5-million cubic yards of sand would stretch from the west side of South Beach to about the Shoals Club, near the east end of the beach and the intersection of East Beach.
Village spokeswoman Carin Faulkner said this week it was unclear whether there would be sufficient sand to go that far and she expected an update from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers next week. Regardless, the large cutter-head suction dredge and associated equipment has placed massive amounts of sand as far east as Peppervine Trail, which is access area 25A, as of Tuesday.
Sand going to Bald Head is part of a recurring effort that generally occurs every two years. Sand from the channel goes to Bald Head in two of the three dredging cycles. In the third cycle, the sand is placed along Caswell Beach and parts of Oak Island.
When Great Lakes finishes on Bald Head – expected by March 30 – the company will set its sights on the east end of Oak Island. The town has permits to pull sand from select parts of Jaybird Shoals for placement from roughly SE 63rd Street to about Middleton Avenue.
Oak Island’s share of the $15.9-million project is $4.4-million, town records state.
Meanwhile, a smaller project is pulling sand from the Lockwood Folly River crossing at the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. That effort also includes widening of the Lockwood Folly Inlet on the AICW side.
It is putting about 165,000 cubic yards of sand onto the beach from just east of The Point to about Kings Lynn Drive – an erosion hotspot where several homeowners have resorted to sandbags to protect their property.
Those interested in the Oak Island project may learn more at: www.OakIslandNC.com/SAND.