Engineers, environmental specialists, planners and geologists have been working behind the scenes to secure state and federal funds, sand sources and permits for Oak Island’s next two beach improvement projects, engineer Johnny Martin told Town Council Tuesday.
Martin, of Moffatt and Nichol, reviewed multiple efforts to garner sand from Lockwood Folly Inlet, from hurricane emergency reimbursement and from the sea turtle project. The next sand will be a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state-funded effort to rebuild turtle habitat, placing 600,000 to 700,000 cubic yards from SE 63rd Street to 10th Place West, he said.
Martin said he expected $6-million from FEMA and $2-million from the state.
The work will create a dune capable of withstanding a 25-year storm at current sand levels, he said. That is not to say that the new dune would last 25 years, only that it would be expected to resist an average level of wind and inundation.
Five pieces of strand
Engineers have divided the oceanfront eligible for sand into five sections: West End, West, Central, East and East End.
The turtle project covers the East and Central reaches, and is expected to start in January 2020 and continue until May, the beginning of turtle season. The East End reach got major sand last season from the Wilmington Harbor dredging project, which also benefitted Caswell Beach east to Fort Caswell.
Areas near the West End and Lockwood Folly Inlet got a dose of sand recently that came from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway crossing at the Lockwood Folly River, courtesy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The plan for winter 2020-2021 is to use FEMA and state disaster reimbursement funds from Hurricane Florence to put sand on the East End, West and West End reaches, Martin said. That project is also in the $8-million range and expected to add 625,000 to 700,000 cubic yards of sand.
“Everything that we don’t do this winter, we would do next winter,” Martin said.
Permits and guarantees of beach-quality sand complicate the process.
Martin said tests have found beach-quality sand in the Central Reach, just off Oak Island, and in the edge of Jay Bird Shoals. The search for sand continues in other areas, but some are in federal waters and will take longer to permit, he said. Engineers also want to sample Frying Pan Shoals and Yellow Banks.
In other business, council:
n Tabled until June action on signs rules in the airport district so staff could develop specific definitions.
n Heard an overview of the draft 2020 budget.
n Agreed to change the review time for development projects to 45 days, at the request of staff and the planning board.
n Heard a request to reinstall extra stop signs on Yacht Drive until all paving work is finished on East Oak Island Drive.
n Approved a request by the Environmental Advisory Committee to apply for a $5,000 grant that would supply 25 live oak trees for planting along East Oak Island Drive.
Sand project lining up for winter
The sea turtle habitat restoration project is planned for winter 2019-2020. It would add a 25-year storm dune to two of five sections.