The 2017 Panama City Beaches Beach Renourishment Project
UPDATE FROM THE TDC on March 23, 2017
Great news! The dredges will be arriving in Panama City this weekend, and dredging should commence as scheduled by early next week. The updated schedule is below. The durations at each reach have changed somewhat due to the updated volume needs based on the before dredging surveys conducted over the last couple weeks. I still must caveat the schedule by saying that weather/equipment delays may cause changes at any time.
Construction Mobilization: ongoing
Pinnacle Port / Carillon segment active dredging/construction: April 4-April 9
County Pier segment active dredging/construction: March 27-April 7
City Pier segment active dredging/construction: April 8-19
Treasure Island segment active dredging/construction: April 20-27
And, again, here is the project website. The maps/schedule have not yet been updated with the above info.
Answers to Common Questions
Q: Where is this project taking place?
The interim renourishment project is taking place along four segments of beach spanning from the west to east ends and totaling approximately 3.5 miles. The approximate half mile “Pinnacle Port” segment will place sand from just west of Pinnacle Port and into, but not including all of, Carillon Beach to the east. The approximate one-mile “City Pier” segment will place sand from and including the city pier beach west to the Palazzo condos. The approximate one-mile “County Pier” segment will place sand from and including the west side of the county pier west to the Casa Loma. The approximate one-mile “Treasure Island” segment will place sand from and including Moonspinner condos west to approximately just east of Gulf Drive/Hurt Street.
Q: How much sand is being placed as part of this project? How does this compare to the 1998/1999, 2005/2006, and 2011 projects?
A total of approximately 840,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed within the 4 project areas, although the contract allows for an additional 25% (within the four areas) if deemed necessary at the time of construction. The initial restoration of the Panama City Beaches in 1998-1999 placed approximately 9.8 million cubic yards of sand along the 18.5 miles of beaches. The 2005-2006 project placed approximately 3.3 million cubic yards of sand along 17.5 miles of beaches, and it was conducted in response to 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. The 2011 project placed approximately 1.3 million cubic yards of sand along a total of 7.5 miles of the beaches (east and west ends) and was referred to as a “repair” project as it was conducted in response to several storms following Hurricane Ivan. That project also formally incorporated and provided a project at Pinnacle Port and Carillon Beach. The current project is a little smaller than the 2011 project and is being called an “interim” project as it does not encompass the entire shoreline like the first two projects. However, it was deemed necessary due to the eroded condition of the four segments and should increase the longevity of the entire 18.5 mile project area, thus delaying the need for the next full renourishment.
Q: How much is this project costing? And who is paying for it?
The construction cost for the repair project is approved up to $17.8 million (if all options/allowances are exercised), although the base bid is $14.1 million, and it is entirely locally-funded. The local cost-share is provided by the “Third Cent” Bed Tax, an additional one cent bed tax that began being collected in 1997. This beach renourishment fund has ample dollars available for this project. In addition, the Bay County TDC has applied for $4.5 million in State of Florida Beach Management Funding Assistance Program funding. If not secured this year, the Bay County TDC will have two more years to re-apply under this grant program for reimbursement of the state cost-share (approximately 30%).
Q: How long will this project take to construct?
The project is expected to take approximately two months, however construction may move faster or slower. There may also be circumstances that cause lengthy delays due to construction shutdown, like weather conditions or major repairs to equipment, so please keep checking the Construction Schedule.
Q: What is the project schedule?
The order of work will be finalized by the contractor and the Bay County TDC prior to construction. At this time, the contractor is expected to utilize more than one dredge, so construction may be occurring in more than one location at one time. Please see the Construction Schedule for further details on schedule. This construction schedule will be updated at least every seven days.
Q: Who is managing this project?
The Bay County TDC, on behalf of Bay County, will be managing construction of this project. CB&I, formally known as Coastal Planning and Engineering, Inc., the coastal engineering firm that Bay County/the Bay County TDC has retained for coastal engineering services since the mid-1990’s is the engineer of record for the project and will be leading the construction management in conjunction with the Bay County TDC.
Q: Who is the dredging contractor?
Weeks Marine is the dredging contractor. They also constructed the 2005-2006 beach nourishment project, which was managed and partially federally-funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Q: Where is the sand coming from that is being placed on the beach?
The sand for large-scale beach nourishment projects such as this come from our permitted, offshore “borrow areas.” The main borrow area is located approximately 3.5 miles offshore of the Thomas Drive area, with secondary borrow areas near the St. Andrews Bay entrance channel.
Q: How does the sand get to the beach?
The sand is dredged from the offshore borrow areas into a hopper dredge. The hopper dredge motors from the borrow area closer to the project site and hooks up to a submerged pipeline. The submerged pipeline runs from just off the beach up onto the beach and connects to shore pipeline, which runs laterally along the dry beach. The sand is discharged as a water/sand slurry mixture through the pipeline, and bulldozers reshape the sand to meet the designed construction template.
Q: Why does the sand coming out of the pipe look darker than the sand on the beach?
The sand coming out of the pipe is a water/sand mix, and it often contains darker, fine material that wash out as the sand is reshaped on the beach by the bulldozers and dries out over time. This is not contamination. There is a detailed Quality Assurance/Quality Control plan in place that will immediately address any sand quality issues that may arise
Q: How fast does the project move down the beach? How long will it be in front of my property?
Construction should progress at a rate of 500 feet to 1,500 feet per day. Barring any temporary work stoppages, this means the active construction area may only be in front of your property for a couple days. Please be patient. Everyone, including the contractor, engineers, and the Bay County TDC wants the project to continue moving down the beach and closer to completion.
Q: How do I access the beach when construction is occurring in front of my property? How do I get over the dredge pipe?
The active work/construction area is limited to an approximate 1,000-2,000-foot section of beach. Simply walk laterally along the beach until you get around the active work area, locate a sand bridge that goes over the dredge pipe, and you will be able to access the Gulf. The contractor will build these sand bridges over the dredge pipe, which is strung laterally along the shoreline, so that pedestrians may have access to the Gulf.
Q: What are the work hours for construction?
Unless the work temporarily ceases for repair or weather, work will continue 24 hours a day. These are extremely expensive projects, and it is not feasible to halt work overnight or on weekends.
Q: Why is this project important?
The beaches of Panama City Beach that you see today are actually the result of three previous nourishment projects – one completed in 1998/1999, the second in 2005/2006, and the third in 2011. Hurricane Opal (1995) caused significant erosion of the beaches and left very little dry beach along much of the Panama City Beaches. To combat this erosion, as well as erosion from storms since then, renourishment projects have been undertaken. These projects not only provide recreational beach width for the benefit of residents and visitors, but during storm events, the sand also provides critical protection for structures and infrastructure landward of the beach. Because of the 1998/1999 project, there was very little damage to upland development when Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004. In addition, a healthy beach provides nesting areas for species such as sea turtles and shorebirds.
This beach nourishment management program is much like a roadway or other such infrastructure – once it is built, it must be maintained. The work you see ongoing now is a small maintenance project that will help ensure continued use of a sandy beach and storm protection for the upland.
Q: What about sea turtle nesting?
The sea turtle nesting season begins May 1st, when the project is expected to be complete. There are permitted procedures in place if there are construction delays that cause the project to move into May.