30,000 tons of sand is making its way from Polk County for $1.1 million project.
Earthmovers and other construction equipment will become common sights during the next month for Longboat Key residents who live on the north end of the island. On Sept. 6, the town began a $1.1 million beach nourishment on a stretch of 600 feet of beach on the gulf side that has washed away.
“It’s what nature does to a beach,” said Al Browder, project engineer for Jacksonville-based Olsen Associates Inc., which was hired by the town for the project. Longboat lost 61,700 cubic yards of sand on four of eight gulf-facing portions of its beach from Hurricane Irma, Olsen found in a July study.
To fix a portion of that loss, North Shore Road residents over the next three weeks will see 1,326 trucks, each hauling 22 tons of quartz sand from a mine in Davenport, which is in Polk County. That mine is more than 100 miles from Longboat.
The trucks will enter and leave Longboat through Bradenton Beach, said Tom Harmer, town manager. People living on the south end of the 11-mile island should not be affected by the additional truck traffic.
Beach nourishment is not a new way to restore beaches. It’s a repetitive process where lost sand is replaced and also helps mitigate damage from storms and other naturally occurring events. The first beach nourishment project in the United States took place at Coney Island during the early 1920s.
Beach nourishment projects are also nothing new for Longboat Key, which has been nourishing its beaches since 1993 when the town had more than 3.3 million cubic yards of sand placed along the island’s 9.3-mile shoreline. The North Shore nourishment project is considered small by comparison, Browder said.
During the ongoing project public access to the beach from North Shore Road to Joy Street will be closed. Harmer said project work will take place 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday with the goal of finishing the work in less than a month.
Longboat’s next beach nourishment project is scheduled for 2021-22.
On a related project, Longboat is going through the approval process from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to construct four or five additional groins on the north end of the island. The project, which could run $9 million to $12 million depending on the number of groins constructed, could get under way by 2020, Harmer said.
In addition, the town will dredge the lagoon at the northern end. That project, like the additional groins, is also going through the state approval process. The dredging project could be done sometime next year, he said.