Longboat Key officials are working behind-the-scenes this season on three projects.
Now that the town of Longboat Key has state permits for all three projects, which total more than $17 million worth of sand restoration, Town Manager Dave Bullock and Public Works Director Juan Florensa are just waiting for federal permits before they begin a mid-Key sand haul and two pass-dredging projects that will bring sand to the north and south ends. All three projects are still under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. To speed the process up, Bullock and Florensa hope to have bids and contractors waiting to begin when federal permits arrive, which could occur at any time.
The mid-Key project will begin in April, after seasonal traffic subsides, and will bring approximately 250,000 cubic yards of sand from a sand source in the middle of the state. Sand will be placed mid-Key to as far south as Beachplace.
The other two projects include 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.
To the south, a $3 million New Pass dredging project, which will restore a recreational beach on the south end with 250,000 cubic yards of sand, could begin any time after the town receives federal permits.
Florensa said those pass dredging projects can start as soon as federal permits are received because the dredge won’t impact traffic, and only a small portion of the beach will be affected.
With permits in place, Sarasota County expects to select beach project contractors in time for a Jan. 1, 2016 start date.
The project will continue through April and renourish approximately 2 miles of shoreline around Turtle Beach at the south end of Siesta Key.
The $21 million project will place 700,000 to 800,000 cubic yards of sand, widening the beach by approximately 60 feet.
The project would likely have started earlier, according to Laird Wreford, Sarasota County coastal projects manager said, if not for two wildlife-related delays that added 10 months to the permitting process.
Sarasota County received final permits from United States Army Corps of Engineers in October and opened construction bids Nov. 10. If the bids are not over budget, the county will be able to break ground.
Construction will be limited to a football field-size area that will move down the shoreline as the project proceeds. Most areas will not be affected for more than a day.
Lido Key has plans for a renourishment as well as two groins to be installed that the city hopes will mitigate sand loss.
The $22 million project, a partnership between the city of Sarasota and the Army Corps, will start in winter 2016 at the earliest. According to Susan Jackson, Army Corps spokeswoman, the federal funds that will pay for the majority of the renourishment are not yet included in the Army Corps’s 2016 budget.
The project has been scrutinized by third-party engineering firm Atkins, which was hired by Sarasota County after Siesta Key residents worried the proposal to mine 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from Big Pass would cause erosion on their beaches.
On Oct. 29, Atkins released the final version of that report, which opponents saw as vindication, in part because the report was critical of the data and modeling the Army Corps used and suggested alternate borrow sites or mining less sand.
According to Jackson, the project went through three independent peer reviews, all of which concluded that sand could be dredged from Big Pass for placement on Lido Key without causing adverse impacts.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing permit applications for the project and has submitted a second request for additional information from the Army Corps.