By Steve Plunkett
The city’s dredge contractor is back to work on a beach renourishment project between the Boca Raton Inlet and Red Reef Park.
Weeks Marine Inc. left Boca Raton in April after weather delays let it finish only about 20 percent of the job. The New Jersey-based company was at the Port of Palm Beach on Jan. 31 creating a submerged pipeline for the project.
“We were hoping they would be here a lot sooner. But due to the passing of Hurricane Matthew, they were up in Hilton Head building that project. That sand pretty much got all erased,” Jennifer Bistyga, the city’s coastal program manager, told Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District commissioners before the dredge returned.
The contractor still has about 400,000 cubic yards of sand to pump, Bistyga said. The city hired Weeks Marine to move approximately 530,000 cubic yards in from borrow areas offshore onto what it calls its central beach. The sand will make about 1.45 miles of beach 170 feet wider.
“If the weather will actually cooperate, it will be about 45 days of pumping,” Bistyga said.
“This operation will be a 24/7 operation until the project is complete,” she added.
The dredge will start at the Boca Beach Club, just north of the inlet, and will work its way north, opposite the direction it worked in 2016.
“The last time we started, we started at the northern end of the project area” and worked south, Bistyga said.
The work was originally scheduled to begin in February 2016 but did not get underway until the end of March. The dredge left April 25; its permit was set to expire April 30 to protect nesting sea turtles.
The renourishment will cost $11.3 million, with the state and county paying about $4 million. The city and the Beach & Park District agreed to split the remainder, with each paying $3.7 million.
City officials call it routine maintenance; the central beach was last renourished in 2006.
In other news for the Beach & Park District, Bistyga said the city will hire engineers this year to design a new pump station for the saltwater tanks at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. The existing pump and pipes did not produce enough water flow and were leaking bubbles into the tanks. PVC pipes and a valve box at Red Reef Park were replaced with a new system in March, she said.
“This has created some temporary relief, about a gallon-per-minute flow, as well as decreasing the bubbles that have been coming into the system,” Bistyga said.
The new pump station will be constructed east of A1A to reduce the length of the suction pipes in an effort to improve the system, which Bistyga said would be good for 20 years.
Engineering costs are budgeted at $300,000 in this budget year; construction is projected to cost $2.5 million in fiscal 2018.
By Steve Plunkett