CARTERET COUNTY – Maintenance dredging of the harbor at the North Carolina Port of Morehead City and associated placement of the sand on Bogue Banks is set to begin during the first week of January 2021.
Greg Rudolph with the County Shore Protection Office announced Tuesday on the county’s Beach News website that the mobilization and staging process that began earlier this month was continuing and that Cranford, New Jersey-based Weeks Marine’s cutterhead-suction pipeline dredge, the J.S. Chatry was scheduled to arrive soon after the holidays and could begin the $18 million combined channel maintenance and beach renourishment project Jan. 5, 2021. Weeks Marine will likely complete the work by the end of March.
The Army Corps of Engineers in November gave the company the notice to proceed with the work.
Rudolph told Coastal Review Online Tuesday that the project, which had been delayed over federal funding issues, was the result of “a lot of good planning and a little bit of luck.”
The planning part was the Dredged Material Management Plan for the Morehead City Harbor, which the Corps and the National Park Service developed to address long-term dredging and disposal issues at the harbor as part of a legal settlement the Corps and Carteret County agreed to in 2008. What it means is that sand removed from the harbor and placed on the beach at same time, rather than deposited at an offshore disposal site, is entirely federally funded.
The luck part was getting the funding.
“Every third year, instead of dumping the sand offshore they put on Bogue Banks at full federal cost,” Rudolph explained, adding that the project was supposed to happen last year, but the Corps’ funding came too late.
“So, here they are now,” Rudolph said.
The project is expected to remove 1.14 million cubic yards of sand mostly from shoaled areas known as Range B, the Cutoff and Range A.
The is the first fully federally funded beach renourishment project since Hurricane Florence in 2018. During the past three years, the county has used a mix of Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement for sand lost during Hurricane Florence and state hurricane relief funding to renourish beaches from the Point in Emerald Isle to the Atlantic Beach Circle. The current project will add sand to beaches from the Circle to Fort Macon.
“We’ve been chipping away at 18-19 miles of Bogue Banks over three years and this is going to take us over the finish line,” Rudolph said, referring to the nearly 25-mile-long barrier island. “The state money, which was appropriated for Florence and (Hurricane) Michael recovery, has a 50% cost-share stipulation, which is no problem — we’ve been collecting occupancy taxes for years and years and years for that purpose,” Rudolph said.
Carteret County’s occupancy tax revenues are split between beach renourishment projects and promotion of the county by the Tourism Development Authority.