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High winds, choppy surf slow beach renourishment

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock resume the Anna Maria Island beach renourishment project Dec. 30, pumping and leveling sand dredged from the barge in the background. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

A strong west wind Dec. 26-29 forced Great Lakes Dock and Dredge to move its barge and pumping station from the Gulf of Mexico to calmer waters in Tampa Bay, halting beach renourishment efforts.

The company resumed operations Dec. 30, but a cold front Jan. 2 again brought a strong west wind and 5-6 foot choppy surf, halting operations. The company did some work on Jan. 1.

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker said that although the project was expected to go 24/7 from the start, weather is the deciding factor for Great Lakes to halt its operations.

Strong westerly winds and high waves would do more harm to the project than good, Hunsicker said. Those conditions could easily disrupt dredging and separate the pipes bringing sand to the beach.

Great Lakes currently is nourishing the beach from its starting point at the 60th Street beach access northward to the 72nd Street beach access. The company will pump and smooth sand up to 79th Street, then begin work south of the 60th Street access.

Under its contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes is supposed to finish the project — builiding the beach southward to Coquina Beach — within 60 days of its Dec. 20 start. The company started pumping sand Dec. 21.

Coquina Beach then will be renourished under a separate contract with Great Lakes.

Hunsicker estimated the total cost of the project, including Coquina Beach, at $15 million. Renourishing Coquina Beach will cost about $3 million of that total.

Coquina Beach is being funded by the state and county, he said. Federal, state and county funds are paying for renourishing the beach from 79th Street in Holmes Beach to Coquina Beach.

Corps spokesperson Laurel Reichold said Great Lakes is averaging 1,000 feet of new beach per day when the weather cooperates.

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Marine engineer Michelle Pfeiffer, foreground, of Coastal Planning and Engineering, and Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, inspect the beach project Dec. 30 near the 67th Street beach access in Holmes Beach.

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Marine engineer Michelle Pfeiffer, left, of Coastal Planning and Engineering, and Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, inspect the beach project Dec. 30 near the 67th Street beach access in Holmes Beach.

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Great Lakes Dredge and Dock resume the Anna Maria Island beach renourishment project Dec. 30, pumping and leveling sand dredged from the barge in the background. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

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Beachwalkers in Holmes Beach between the 60th Street and 72nd Street beach accesses are separated by a contractor’s fence from equipment used by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock for beach renourishment. Islander Photos: Rick Catlin

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The Heisel family from Germany walks the beach Jan. 1, despite the presence of renourishment equipment on the shoreline. David Heisel said they also visited during the 2005 beach renourishment project. From left are Gisela, AnnaLisa and David Heisel. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

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AnnaLisa Heisel, 13, from Germany, takes a photo of beach renourishment activity Jan. 1 near the 66th Street beach access in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

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