Unprecedented beach project takes exceptional teamwork
In November 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District began an unprecedented project in Broward County to reconstruct 5.1 miles of eroded shoreline. The project, completed Feb. 28, was the first of its kind because it included 10,000 truck deliveries of sand from a mine in central Florida. The district uses the dredge delivery method to renourish federal beaches, but this project had to be completed prior to hurricane season and all dredges had been deployed to other projects.
The Corps’ contractor, Eastman Aggregate Enterprises, started sand deliveries in early November, with crews trucking 126,700 cubic yards of beach quality sand 106 miles from the E.R. Jahan Ortona sand mine in Moore Haven to Pompano and Lauderdale by the Sea beaches. An average of 130 trucks per day carried sand, each driver navigating two hours one way to make a single delivery. The project required about 10,000 deliveries, all of which were accomplished accident free.
Cynthia Perez, project manager, said the day-to-day operations were phenomenal and so was the community’s involvement and cooperation. People went above and beyond to “do the right stuff.”
“One resident reported that people were rolling out a sand dune in the project area. We coordinated with our contractor, who had before-and-after beach construction photos, and sent them with a report to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) policy compliance biologist for action,” Perez said. FDEP immediately investigated the dune destruction. Dunes are important because they provide landward protection and animal habitat.
On another occasion, a Pompano Beach resident reported that sand had not been placed in front of the Starlight Towers, between the building and where residents had planted rows of sea oats to help protect the beach. The area contained a small walking path, but the contractor wasn’t able to move vehicles through without destroying the vegetation.
Resident Betsy Vienna told Perez, “I’ll yank the vegetation out if you want me to, as long as you deliver the sand.” Perez requested that the area be inspected and quickly realized the low elevation between the towers and the vegetation would have a “ponding” effect without the sand, which could potentially create an unsafe and unhealthy environment.
“I walked Betsy through the FDEP permit process and within two days, FDEP’s ‘Fritz’ Wettstein reviewed and approved the vegetation’s temporary removal. The next day, Eastman went back to place several truckloads of sand. If our relationship with FDEP and the contractor wasn’t so good, we couldn’t have gotten this done so quickly,” Perez said.
“The contractor has just finished installing sand on the area behind our building. Five loads of sand!! The men were great to work with and they did an excellent job. Thank you very much from everyone here at Starlight,” wrote Vienna in an e-mail to Perez.
At one point, the contractor stopped operations early and moved the construction vehicles to allow a wedding to take place on the beach. On another occasion, Eric Myers, Broward County environmental protection official, asked a resident to move his catamaran from the beach to facilitate sand placement. Realizing the man needed assistance, Myers, along with Corps and Eastman employees, relocated the catamaran.
It was teamwork every step of the way, Perez said.