3.7 miles of north island beach to be restored beginning in January

The County Commission last week awarded a $12 million contract to a Fort Pierce firm to restore some 3.7 miles of storm-eroded beach and dunes north of route 510 beginning in January. The hurried action came after an earlier contract fell through.

Guettler Brothers Construction was the low bidder among seven firms vying to renourish the beachfront from the Seaview subdivision south to Wabasso Beach Park that has been battered by multiple hurricanes and nor’easters since 2016.

The company is tasked with spreading about 307,000 cubic yards of sand from an upland mine along the shoreline and planting more than 200,000 native dune plants before the start of sea turtle nesting season on April 30.

The county’s consulting engineering firm APTIM was awarded a $385,000 contract to oversee the trucking and spreading of sand under an accelerated timeframe during what’s expected to be a busy winter season with crowded roads.

“This helps us tremendously. We have an onsite person making sure everything runs smoothly,” public works director Rich Szpyrka told commissioners.

Initially, the county planned to restore all 6.6 miles of coastline from Seaview south to Turtle Trail Beach Park beginning last month. But many private property owners whose permission was required for construction access balked at signing perpetual easement agreements with the county and the low bidder for the project withdrew its bid, delaying commencement of work.

This prompted county officials to divide the project into two phases, with phase two from Wabasso south to Turtle Trail to be put out to bid in summer 2021 and construction completed by April 2022.

Phase one will be paid for from $4.7 million in federal and state grants plus $7.2 million from the local option tourist tax, Szpyrka told commissioners. He said the county is applying for more grant money to do phase two.

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