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Date of Issue: February 23, 2006

Pipes moving, but when?

After months of complaints to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the pipes and equipment left on the beach by renourishment contractor Goodloe Marine, the Corps said last week it would have the pipes removed and stored at the street ends until the project resumes.

But after a collective "hallelujah" from Island elected officials in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, Island residents and beachfront accommodation owners, the question remains: "When?"

The Corps last week gave no date when the removal and storage efforts would begin.

Corps spokesperson Barry Vorse could only say, "We hope to accomplish this task as soon as possible and are currently in touch with the contractor to make this happen."

Vorse also could not say when the project would resume, or if Goodloe Marine would be allowed to finish the job.

Bradenton Beach City Commissioner Bill Shearon said if the Corps can't get the storage project started for a few weeks - into March - and then wants the project restarted on April 1, what's the point of even storing the equipment?

He also took exception with Goodloe's claim that it was plagued with weather problems from last July, when the project began, until December when Goodloe halted operations.

"Longboat Key kept dredging last year, even during the bad weather that Goodloe had," said Shearon.

Turns out that Goodloe's dredge apparently could only withstand about a three-foot wave without being swamped, while Manson Construction Co., the contractor for Longboat Key's project, is reportedly using a dredge able to take much larger seas without interrupting any of its operations.

And Great Lakes Dock and Dredge, the company that performed the 2002 Island beach renourishment project, operated a dredge that could operate in very high seas and rough weather.

The renourishment project that started at 79th Street in Holmes Beach last July had reached 19th Street North in Bradenton Beach by mid-December, when Goodloe halted operations for the winter tourist season.

Goodloe, of Apollo Beach, was awarded the Corps contract to dredge 400,000 cubic yards of renourishment sand onto the Island for $4.6 million, despite submitting a bid almost $1 million higher than the official Corps estimate.

In January 2005, Goodloe completed a Corps contract to renourish South Padre Island in Texas with 377,000 cubic yards of dredged sand. That contract was for $1.5 million.