Grand Strand tourists and local beachgoers will be stepping over pipelines and zig-zagging around fences when work begins next week to renourish area beaches that were damaged by Hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin.
It’s not just people that Army Corps of Engineers say they will try not to inconvenience, but sea turtles that will be nesting during the construction period as well.
Surfside Beach and Garden City work will be completed this summer, but North Myrtle Beach is not scheduled to begin until later this fall.
The Army Corps said in a statement Wednesday that beach renourishment work will begin near the Surfside pier after July 15 and move north towards Myrtle Beach State Park. That work is expected to take 25 to 35 days barring any significant weather delays.
After that section is complete, sand renourishment will move south from the pier toward the southern project boundary in Georgetown County where work will commence for 30 to 35 days and be completed by mid September.
The corps will be placing approximately 800,000 cubic yards of material on approximately 7.5 miles of Garden City and Surfside beaches.
The North Myrtle Beach portion of the project is expected to begin by mid-September or October to place 400,000 cubic yards of material on areas of the beach without adequate dune protection.
Wes Wilson, project manager for the corps, acknowledged that construction during the summer will cause temporary inconveniences to residents and tourists using these stretches of beach for recreation.
The corps also is working with South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts who have already begun relocating nests away from areas of the beach where sand renourishment will occur.
“ … (B)eginning the construction project now enables the major, long-term benefits of protecting people and property from storm damage to be realized as soon as possible,” Wilson said.
Locals and tourists should expect to see beach areas fenced off in areas about 1,000 feet long, which the corps says will make it easy for pedestrians to make quick detours around the active work sites.
Pipelines running along the beach outside of the fenced areas can be safely crossed where the contractor places crossover sand ramps over the pipes. The public should keep away from lines and only cross them at the sand crossovers, the corps said.
“During active construction, the majority of these beaches will remain open and available for the public to enjoy,” the corps said.
“The contractor works 24 hours a day, seven days a week during construction, usually completing up to 500 feet per day, barring mechanical or weather/sea condition delays. This means that active construction moves quickly and will only be in front of any particular building or area for two or three days,” the corps said.
The project is estimated to cost more than $26 million, and is funded through federal emergency beach rehabilitation funding from Hurricane Matthew and additional appropriations from Congress.
After the emergency beach work is completed in North Myrtle Beach, city officials there will spend at estimated $1 million to add another 50,000 cubic yards of sand to rebuild dunes that were eliminated or severely eroded during Hurricane Matthew.
“We are very grateful that this emergency beach renourishment project will soon bring much needed sand to sections of our beach that were severely eroded during Hurricane Matthew,” said North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley.