The passing low pressure system and large swells on Thursday and Friday, March 6-7, caused more damage to Wrightsville’s beach strand, which is at the end of its four-year cycle and due for a Coastal Storm Damage Reduction project this spring.
However, during the New Hanover County Port, Waterway and Beach Commission meeting on Thursday, March 6, county shore protection coordinator Layton Bedsole said CSDR project contractor Weeks Marine will be delayed in arriving to Wrightsville Beach.
Bedsole said the dredge for the Wrightsville Beach project was scheduled to complete a project in Morehead City before heading to Wrightsville Beach but that the dredge had not yet arrived to Morehead City.
Due to the restricted time frame in which a CSDR project can be completed prior to the summer sea turtle nesting season, Bedsole said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is talking with environmental agencies like the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management about extending the project time frame.
On Tuesday, March 11, Bob Keistler, USACE project manager, said the corps has not received a decision about the project extension.
“As of today we are probably a month behind schedule,” Keistler said by phone March 11. “We are in the process of making that request … we are asking for an extension through May 31 and they are going through the process.”
On March 11, Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens said he received an email saying Weeks Marine would not be using the dredge bound for the Morehead City project but would instead send a dredge from New England.
However, Keistler was hesitant to confirm that until the USACE’s meeting with Weeks Marine planned for Friday, March 14.
“For more than a month now we have been … doing all we can,” Keistler said. “[Weeks Marine] has committed to more work than they can handle, and we are trying to make sure our jobs meet all the requirements.”
Severe escarpments combined with delayed dredge work and the storm event on Friday, March 7 rendered impassible conditions for town emergency vehicles the same day.
Owens said the town would repair the emergency lane on the beach strand prior to the CSDR project if the division of coastal management allows.
“What we are going to try to do is get in contact with the division of coastal management and there may be a few places where we can secure a travel lane,” he said. “It is tight around just north of Stone Street and at this point it is pretty impassible.”
Owens said there is another area of the beach strand south of Stone Street that needs to be smoothed out to create a passible area for emergency vehicles as well.