By Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association -- The process of putting $8 million worth of sand on north end beaches - at no cost to the town through inlet maintenance dredging - will begin Friday by moving equipment onto the beach, said Coastal Program Manager Rob Weber.
The goal is to move all the equipment onto the beach and have everything ready to go before Thanksgiving so that there will be no work going on from Thursday through Sunday of that weekend. The intent is for residents to have a quiet Thanksgiving, he said.
The actual dredging operation may begin as early as the end of November and end by early January.
Approximately 230,000 cubic yards of sand will be moved, by hydraulic excavation of sand, from the Lake Worth Inlet area and placed on the dry beach starting from the jetty down to Palmo Way.
Immediately following the dredging, a town contractor will move a small portion of the newly-placed sand farther south – from Palmo Way to Colonial Lane. That sand will be moved by dump trucks onto areas where the town has not previously placed sand. The sand is expected to be placed against the seawalls to enhance storm protection.
The beach placement of sand must be done outside of sea turtle nesting season and all construction must be finished by March 1, 2018.
Setting up and taking away the equipment will be confined to daylight hours. Dredging and beach placement activities will be conducted 24 hours a day/seven days a week, however, the contractor will minimize nighttime operations as much as possible to limit noise, Mr. Weber said. The project will use Kenlyn Road for beach access.
The goal is to finish the entire project with as little adverse impact to residents as possible, Mr. Weber said. “They will back the trucks down Kenlyn Road and lay mats in the sand in order to back the trucks entirely onto the beach and be the least disruptive to the roadway,” Mr. Weber said. “There may be temporary closures of the road with flagmen while they’re backing the trucks down. They’ll unload the pipes on the beach with heavy equipment and take the pipes to the far north end near the jetty on the sand. The bulldozers and the pipes will be lined up and ready to go after Thanksgiving.”
Sand will be dredged from the Lake Worth Inlet Entrance Channel, the Port of Palm Beach turning basins in the Lake Worth Lagoon, and the settling basins north of the inlet.
On November 8th, the Palm Beach Harbor Pilots’ Association issued draft restrictions to ships for Lake Worth Inlet, affecting vessel traffic to and from the Port of Palm Beach. Recent soundings showed severe shoaling on the centerline and southern half of the Entrance Channel.
Palm Beach harbor pilots board the ships and steer them in and out of the inlet.
The channel water depth is normally more than 33 feet deep at high tide when sand has not clogged the channel. The alert to ships stated all vessels are restricted to the maximum operating draft of 30 feet at high tide and 27 feet at low tide. Vessels arriving within 3 feet of the maximum allowable draft for the Port of Palm Beach will be restricted to transiting at high tide. Vessels carrying petroleum products are reduced to 29 feet at high tide and 26 feet at low tide."
Mr. Weber and Mayor Gail Coniglio have worked together with the Port of Palm Beach and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make Palm Beach the recipient of the sand from inlet maintenance dredging. The dredging must occur every two years or the water will be too shallow for the large ships to navigate into the Port.
“This is a collaborative effort between the Army Corps, the Port, and the town that we have been nurturing,” Mayor Coniglio said. “It allows the town to be the beneficiary of the inlet dredging sand at no cost to the taxpayers. It is a savings of $8 million and every two years we look forward to the maintenance dredging and adding the sand, which is so crucial to shore protection.”
The Army Corps obligation is to maintain the inlet for safe navigation and there is budgeted money every two years to accomplish that task, Mayor Coniglio said. “We have all made the commitment that this is the best for the Port, the Army Corps, and the town in order to maintain safe navigation in the inlet and create a healthy shoreline by using the sand in a productive way,” she said.
The Army Corps has hired Weeks Marine as the contractor and they will use the CR McCaskill cutterhead dredge. “The dredge is going to be attached to the pipeline at all times, so that they don’t have any down time and can continually work 24 hours a day,” he said. “The pipeline is going to come up over the jetty and onto the beach. It’s like a vacuum cleaner. It will pick the sand up and put it right on the beach. They’ll start nourishing the beach at the jetty and move north to south.”
Any rocks in the sand that are greater than ¾ of an inch will be trapped in a cage at the end of the pipeline so that they don’t end up on the beach, Mr. Weber said.
“If the inlet wasn’t there, the sand would come through Singer Island and continue down to the Town of Palm Beach,” Mr. Weber said. “The sand moves from north to south and this will help restore the natural flow of sand.”