By Pamela Nicholls, GSAC Board Member
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Trucks hauling sand to City beaches for the County’s Emergency Beach Berm restoration project should start hitting our streets the first week in April.

County Coastal Zone Manager Andy Miller confirmed on Monday that his best estimate for a start date is April 3, 2023. That is five days past the original deadline set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the project’s completion. However, Miller also confirmed that FEMA had issued an extension to June 29, thereby relieving the County of 75% of the project’s estimated total cost of $24 million. State and local funds will be used to cover the balance.

At their February 28 meeting, the County Board of Commissioners approved contracts with four vendors to provide the 300,000 cubic yards of sand necessary to replace the estimated 2 1/2 ft lost when Ian ravaged our coastline on September 28.

The County Procurement Office is currently reviewing bid submittals from four contractors to haul that sand for the construction of the 20-30 ft wide, 2-3 ft high berm which will extend in the north from Barefoot Beach to Pelican Bay Beach and in the south from the Seapoint Condominium at Naples Cay and along Park Shore and Naples Beaches almost to Gordon Pass. The dimensions of the berm will vary according to the physical contours of the land.

The amount of sand needed to restore the berm has decreased 100,000 cubic yards from the original calculation of 400,000 cubic yards. The reduction is likely due to the natural mechanics of wave action and sand transport.

The City and County have agreed truck routes with beach access points at Horizon Way, 10th Avenue South and 17th Avenue South. The Athens Group has agreed to allow the county contractors to use the Haul Road between US 41 and Gulf Shore Boulevard North and access the beach through the Beach Hotel construction area.

When the project gets underway the plan is to start with the southern reach along Park Shore and Naples Beaches where the largest volume of sand was lost during the hurricane.

Timing to replant the considerable amount of dune vegetation lost to the storm is being considered. City Manager Jay Boodheshwar is very keen to have re-planting added to the project’s scope at this time to take advantage of the rainy season and ensure the sand placement investment is protected. However, there is an alternative view that re-planting can be delayed several months to let nature take its course. This timeframe would allow the sand to re-establish and stabilize before re-planting.

Public Works Director Bob Middleton will be providing City Council with an update on the emergency berm project at their meeting on March 20.