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Date of Issue: May 12, 2005

Trucks may have to rumble through Anna Maria

Manatee County Ecosystems Administrator Charlie Hunsicker said he will have discussions with the contractor for the upcoming U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emergency Island beach renourishment about avoiding the need to truck sand to the Anna Maria portion of the project.

Because Anna Maria's portion of the beach renourishment is funded by state and local funds, not federal, the contractor has no plans at present to pump sand to Anna Maria, at least at this point, said Hunsicker.

Under the county's arrangement with the Corps for the Anna Maria renourishment, the county is buying dredged sand from the contractor for that city. The contractor's main line for dredged sand from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to be near the Manatee Public Beach, with extensions north and south, but not into Anna Maria.

Hunsicker said he made a proposal to pump sand to Anna Maria, once the contractor is named by the Corps on May 16.

"I'm still talking to the Corps, and I'll talk to the contractor as soon as possible," he said. If the contractor can't pump the sand directly to the affected beach areas in Anna Maria, it will have to be trucked from the main collection point.

Hunsicker noted that if the sand is trucked, the impact to Anna Maria will be minimal.

 Anna Maria is getting only about 35,000 cubic yards for renourishment. That's only a few truckloads and work should be finished on the .6 mile section of Anna Maria's beach in a few days.

Emergency beach renourishment for 17 Florida beach areas was authorized recently by the federal government following the severe beach erosion caused by four hurricanes striking Florida beaches last year.

Hunsicker noted that the emergency renourishment will just replenish the sand that was lost due to the hurricanes, not return the shore to the size it was following the 2002 beach renourishment project.

Following the 2002 project, Island beaches that were renourished had about 125 to 200 feet of beach from the dune line to the mean high-water mark. Marine scientists had predicted that size would gradually shrink until the beach area from the dunes to the water stabilized at about 125 feet.

Following the beach erosion from the four hurricanes of 2004, however, some beach areas on Anna Maria Island had less than 40 feet of sand from the dunes to the high water mark.

The Corps renourishment project will not benefit the residents in Anna Maria between 755 and 761 N. Shore Drive as that area was not included in the 2002 renourishment project. To halt erosion, property owners there are paying for a private seawall currently under construction (The Islander, May 4).

Those owners may elect to purchase sand from the dredging contractor at their own expense to shore up the beach in the affected area.