Beach renourishment slows for Sally, dune addition approved

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Workers use GPS survey gear to check the sand depth as two bulldozers smooth the freshly laid sand Aug. 27 along the beach near 26th Street North in Bradenton Beach. Dunes along the periphery help anchor the sand and prevent erosion. The construction is part of a $17 million renourishment project piping sand from offshore to replenish beaches. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen

Beach renourishment on Anna Maria Island ground to a halt in the wake of Hurricane Sally.

The two dredges that pump sand from offshore to the beaches left the open water in the Gulf of Mexico near the island to be harbored Sept. 12 at Port Manatee in Palmetto, as Sally, then a tropical storm, passed through the Gulf more than 175 miles from the island, creating large swells as it headed northwest.

The dredges are part of a $17 million renourishment project piping sand from offshore to the beaches to replenish and prevent further erosion. Beach renourishment began July 8 near 77th Street in Holmes Beach.

“As the seas continue to calm down and the contractor determines the conditions to be safe, they will return the dredge to the sand source and resume beach construction,” Doris Otero, project manager with Aptim of Boca Raton, an environmental engineering company servicing the project, wrote The Islander Sept. 15.

The work resumed Sept. 19 near 17th Street North in Bradenton Beach.

Otero wrote that the storm had minimal impact on the already renourished beaches, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a funding source for the $17 million project, along with the state and Manatee County.

“The Corps indicated that the tides and currents of the passing storm had a minor effect on the beach, likely shifting sand within the project area, which will be assessed as soon as it is safe for their vessels to resume their regular project surveys,” Otero wrote.

In the meantime, the county commission approved an amendment Sept. 15 to its project agreement to include supplemental dune construction.

Charlie Hunsicker, the county’s parks and natural resources director, said small dunes would provide a buffer for roads and private property when tides rise from storm events, such as Sally. He also said that inclusion in the project ensures the dunes can be repaired following a storm.

The project is expected to run through October, terminating when it reaches Longboat Pass.

People can visit mymanatee.org and search for “beach renourishment updates” for more information about the project.