The three-foot wide strip of dirty sand on Siesta Key public beach may disappear by next year.
After numerous setbacks, including the Siesta Beach improvements, environmental permitting delays and a $3 million discrepancy in the construction estimate, the Beach Road drainage project is on track for completion Dec. 21, according to Sarasota County Director of Environmental Utilities Jody Kirkman.
Construction, however, will not hit the earlier timeframe marker of a February commencement to beat sea-turtle nesting season.
Sarasota County commissioners approved a contract with Erickson Consulting Engineers in 2008, for design of the plan with revenues earmarked from the surtax II fund and a $975,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
SWFWMD has already extended the grant, which was supposed to pay for nearly half the estimated costs.
“If we keep the project on track, it shouldn’t affect (the SWFWMD grant),” Kirkman said.
But, the lowest bid contractors submitted for the construction portion of the project came in at $4.25 million, which staff rounded to roughly $3 million greater than an earlier engineer’s estimate, said Sarasota County spokesman Curt Preisser.
“This is a unique project,” Preisser said. “There is nothing like this in the state of Florida.”
The contractor will use horizontal directional drilling to feed a pipe underground and 2,500 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico. That aspect of the project caused the largest difference between estimated and bid pricing, Kirkman said.
The project includes an ultraviolet filter and disinfecting system hooked up to the stormwater pump to clean the water before it reaches the Gulf discharge pipe, according to quantity specifications in the solicitation documents.
County staff will prepare a March presentation for the County Commission to determine whether to accept the recommended bidder and to decide the fate of the 26,000 cubic yards of soil county staffs expect construction to displace.
The county can leave a portion of that soil at the construction site for the contractor to use for the coming Siesta Key public beach improvement project.
“We just need to be sure that we cross our t’s and dot our i’s,” Preisser said.
Tentative timeline for Beach Road drainage project
March — Project is an agenda item for Sarasota County Commission
April — County staff chooses a contractor
May/June — Construction begins
Dec. 21 — Construction is complete