Beach renourishment along the Jacksonville Beaches is expected to begin in late October 2018 and continue through January 2019.
About 880,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed along all of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, and the southern mile of Hanna Park; that is, from about ½ mile south of Mayport Naval Station to the Duval/St. Johns County Line. About 810,000 cubic yards will be placed to the beach berm (immediately seaward of the dunes). About 70,000 cubic yards will be placed to repair dune erosion — principally along the southern mile of Jacksonville Beach and the northern mile of Atlantic Beach (where dune repairs after Hurricane Matthew (in 2016) have not already been constructed) – and also to repair lesser impacts to the previously re-built dunes from Hurricane Irma (2017).
The renourishment sand will come from the seabed — at an offshore borrow (dredge) area about 7 miles offshore of Neptune Beach — in about 50 feet of water depth. It is the same borrow area used in the recent 2016-17 renourishment and just south of the borrow areas that have provided most of the sand placed to the project since 1978. The sand has been tested and sampled for quality. It is the same as the 2016-17 project and very similar to the sand placed on the beach in 2011 and the sand that has characterized the beaches over at least the last 20 years. The sand will be picked up from the seabed by a hopper dredge (a ship that dredges the sand and stores it in its hull). The dredge then sails to the beach and pumps the sand, with seawater, through a 30-inch diameter pipeline to the beach. The sand is then spread by bulldozers. The sand fill placement usually progresses along the beach at a rate of between 500 and 600+ feet per day (that is, moving along 1 to 2 city blocks per day).
Portions of the beach will be closed to public access during construction – typically up to about 1,200 feet alongshore at a time (2 to 3 city blocks) – while placement of the pipes and sand progresses along the beach. Beach closures at any one location usually last only two to three days.
The current schedule is for pipes and equipment to arrive at the beach in mid-October 2018, staging at 16th Avenue South in Jacksonville Beach. The dredge is scheduled to begin pumping sand by late October 2018. If uninterrupted, the construction will take about 90 days to complete (depending upon the seas and weather). The work is currently anticipated to be completed by late January 2019. However, the contractor has until about August 1, 2019 to complete the work – particularly in the event that the government directs the dredge equipment to be temporarily relocated to another job to complete work that must be done in the winter of 2018/19. [This occurred during the 2016-17 Jacksonville Beaches renourishment, when work was interrupted from December 2016 to April 2017 so that time-critical dredging could be completed at Savannah Harbor, Georgia.]
The current plan is for work to begin at south Jacksonville Beach (from about 33rd Avenue South to the County Line), and then proceed more or less northward, through all of Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, and most of Hanna Park – ideally completed by the end of January 2019 (subject to change).
The Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol began monitoring for marine turtle nests earlier this summer, and it has relocated the nests to a safe area – so that the sea turtle eggs and hatchlings will not be disturbed by the construction. By the start of the 2018/19 construction, hatchling marine turtles will have emerged and headed to sea. The anticipated construction schedule of mid-October through January places the work outside of the marine turtle nesting season (which is typically mid-April to mid-October). Sea turtle monitoring and nest relocation (if/as required) will resume in early April 2019.
The construction contractor is Manson Construction Company. This large marine construction and dredging company is based in Seattle, Washington, but their US East-Coast office is located here in Jacksonville. Management and construction of the project shall be by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District. The City of Jacksonville is the local (non-federal) sponsor for the project.
Unique to the 2018-19 project, construction costs for the project are shared between the federal government (about 90%), and the City of Jacksonville (about 10%), with the latter eligible for over 90% reimbursement from the State of Florida and FEMA grants. The project’s 2018-19 construction cost is about $16M, more or less, including dune repairs. The extra level of federal funds for the 2018-19 project arises from special allocations to repair damages from recent hurricanes. The typical cost-share funding for project renourishment is about 61.6% federal, 18% State, and 20.4% City of Jacksonville.
The previous, recent renourishment in 2016-17 began as a routine job in late September 2016 but was then promptly interrupted by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, after which the scope of the work was expanded to include dune repairs and additional sand placement to the beach to address the storm’s severe erosional impacts. That project ultimately placed 873,660 cubic yards of sand to the beach and 194,660 cubic yards to the dune – plus installation of about 650,000 sea oats (dune plants) – all completed by the end of August 2017. Then, Hurricane Irma, on 10-11 September 2017, severely eroded the beach berm, caused some damage to the rebuilt dune (and further damage to the non-restored dunes along north Atlantic Beach and south Jacksonville Beach), and resulted in loss of about 40% of the newly planted dune vegetation. The current 2018-19 project is intended to repair the erosion damage from Hurricane Irma, and to complete repairs to the dune along north Atlantic Beach and south Jacksonville Beach from both Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. The alongshore limits of the 2018-19 renourishment also include most of Hanna Park, which is not otherwise typically included in the routine work limits.
Beyond these unusually severe back-to-back hurricane impacts in 2016 and 2017, periodic renourishment of the beach is required to offset the erosion caused the interruption of the natural sand flow by the deep navigation channel and long jetties at the St. Johns River Entrance.
The periodic beach renourishment is typically constructed every 5 to 6 years. The placement of sand initially widens the beach by about 50 to 100 feet. The project is designed so that natural erosion of some of the newly placed sand will move offshore and rebuild the beach’s foundation, below the waterline. All of the dunes and sandy beach along the Jacksonville Beaches — covering the seawall and rocks that once characterized the entire shore – resulted from the beach nourishment program that commenced here in 1978-80.