Permits pave the way for New Pass and mid-Key beach projects in 2016. The town is still waiting on one last permit for a Longboat Pass project.
After months of waiting, the town received an intent to issue permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a $3 million New Pass dredging project that will place 250,000 cubic yards of sand on the eroded south end.
The Dec. 23 notice means two of three projects have received approval from state and federal agencies and will begin this year.
The town wrote to the Corps of Engineers Jan. 6, stating it has no objections to the permit. Because the town and the city of Sarasota take turns getting sand from the pass every six to eight years, the city will also sign off on a permit for the project.
Town Manager Dave Bullock credited Key resident and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, for his assistance in expediting the permit.
The town still has to put the project out for bid and wait for a start date, which will most likely be in the summer.
The New Pass approval follows a permit the town received in July for a $10,983,192 mid-Key sand restoration project that will begin in April. Bids for that project are due Jan. 20.
The mid-Key project will bring approximately 250,000 cubic yards of sand from a source in the middle of the state. Sand will be placed mid-Key to as far south as Beachplace.
The town is waiting until after season to begin the mid-Key project because it involves transporting sand via dump trucks that will drive Gulf of Mexico Drive and enter the beach through an access point at the shuttered Colony Beach & Tennis Resort site.
The third and final project that’s still awaiting a final federal permit is a $3.5 million Longboat Pass dredging project that will bring 200,000 cubic yards of sand from Gulfside Road north to the North Shore Road beach access.
“I’m really confident that two of the three projects are starting this year,” Bullock said. “And I’m hopeful, since conditions for the New Pass project have been approved that are very similar to the Longboat Pass project, that a permit for that project is coming soon.”
If it can overcome federal bureaucracy hurdles, the town could be working on $17 million worth of three beach projects at once to restore sand Key-wide this year, and they might even overlap at some point, according to Bullock.