By: Diane E. Korzen Contributing Writer
Work finally began last month on the much-anticipated continuation of a renourishment for Boca Raton’s beaches – from south of Red Reef to south of Boca Inlet.
“They should be starting to pump sometime today. They already had the all-clear. They were just waiting for the weather to cooperate,” said Boca Raton Coastal Program Manager Jennifer Bistyga on Feb. 13.
Is there a target completion date? “They have to be done by the end of April,” she said.
The $11 million renourishment is being funded by four separate entities: The City of Boca Raton, The Greater Beach & Park District, Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and Palm Beach County.
The project was initially expected to restart on Feb. 6, but was still experiencing delays due to weather as of Feb. 10.
Have they started yet? Bystaga was asked at that time. “No. The contractor has mobilized [the equipment], but has not started pumping sand yet. It’s hard to say when. They might come down [one] night with a dredge. It’s hard to predict,” she said.
The beach renourishment is expected to take approximately 40 days. Some 400,000 to 450,000 cubic yards of sand are slated to beef up Boca’s beaches to make them wider then they have been for about a decade.
Boca Raton City Council approved the beach renourishment in December 2015. Work on the beach renourishment really began in March 2016, when there were two borrow sites for sand. “They already used up one; this next phase of renourishment will use a second borrow site,” Bistyga explained.
The contractor – Weeks Marine of Louisiana — worked on the renourishment in March and April 2016, but had to stop for Sea Turtle Season (which runs from March 1 through October 31). The contract allowed the contractor to work through April 30, Bistyga said.
Continuation of the renourishment was originally hoped to begin in Nov. 2016, but more weather-related delays reportedly blocked progress.
“When Hurricane Matthew came, (the storm passed by South Florida as a Cat. 4 Hurricane on Oct. 6), the contractor was up in Hilton Head, SC doing a beach renourishment. After Hurricane Matthew hit up there (as a Cat. 2), it did additional damage. The contractor helped bring those
beaches back, but it delayed their ability to come down to Boca to begin work.”
Strong winds in December and January created additional delays, Bistyga said.
At the beach
Since the beginning of February, large metal pipes have been stacked up at Palmetto Park beach just south of the Pavilion along with several Cat 5s and basket apparatuses to be used in the renourishment. Further down the beach, not far from the inlet, one Cat 5 already has a long pipe visibly connected out into the ocean as of Feb. 5. A local surfer, who observed the earlier renourishment, said the process is to take all the pipes stacked up at Palmetto Park beach, assemble them into one long pipe running along the beach parallel to the shore, then swing the long pipe around and send it out into the ocean. During dredging, they pump sand from the ocean floor to the beach and use it to enlarge the beach area, he said. Some areas of the beach will be made 100 to 120 feet wider.
What beachgoers should know
According to Bistyga, there will be times when an area of the beach which residents wish to use will be closed.
“They’re taking 1,000 ft. at a time. You can always walk past the construction on the dune side. Just stay outside the active construction zone; you can’t go into the water [there]. Be patient. They will work fast as they can,” Bistyga said.
The Town of Hillsboro Beach has been trying to get the cities of Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach to help provide sand for a renourishment for Hillsboro’s beach.
Is Boca Raton going to help the Town of Hillsboro with their renourishment?
“No comment on that,” said Bistyga.
Is the matter in litigation? “No comment,” she said.
By: Diane E. Korzen Contributing Writer