Completion of beach project unlikely even with 7-day extension

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Granted seven extra days to get sand delivered and beaches constructed, it is unlikely Ranger Construction will be able to get the first of two phases completed before May 7.

The company was originally scheduled to wrap the project on Friday, but an emergency request for more time was granted. County Public Works Director Chris Mora said Thursday that the 7-day extension might not be enough to get the work down. He said the county was hoping to get a 9- to 15-day extension from state environmental officials.

“We just don’t know what their production is going to be,” Mora said of the sand mines producing sand.

He said that the sand mines need one day to catch up with sand production for every three or four days of hauling.

Even though it does not look likely the beach replenishment project will be completed on time, Ranger still stands to receive its $304,000 lump-sum payment from the county, so long as the company delivers 269,000 cubic yards of sand by the end of May 7.

The lump-sum payment came as a compromise between Ranger and the county when it looked as though the contractor would walk off the job a month ago.

The money is supposed to be used to cover the cost of a third, larger dredge at the sand mine and overtime expenses associated with running the mine around the clock.

As of Monday night, Ranger Construction had dumped nearly 253,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach, which is enough material to fill approximately three miles of the 4.4-mile project. Only about 50 percent of the beach and dune have actually been constructed, with only a few days remaining.

To date, both Wabasso Beach Park and Turtle Trail beach access have re-opened.

With the extension, though, construction will continue at Golden Sands and will start at Seagrape Trail, the access point designed to bring sand to the critically eroded areas of Baytree and Marbrisa in the Town of Indian River Shores.

Mora said all the beaches will be back open about one week after construction wraps up. Ranger Construction is required to bring the parks and parking lots back to pre-construction state. The only work that will continue past the permit period will be the planting of dune-stabilizing vegetation, which will be done with light vehicles.

Over the spring and summer, sea turtle nesting and reproductive rates will be closely watched by regulators, who, based on those statistics, will decide whether or not to issue permits for the second phase of the project.

Phase Two will begin wherever the first phase left off and will also cover the area from Golden Sands Park north to Treasure Shores Park, including the area of oceanfront Windsor.

Should upland sand prove to be a suitable nesting habitat for the turtles, it will be allowed in the second phase, but the county may need to revert to the tried-and-true pumping of offshore sand if the turtles don’t thrive in the new, trucked-in sand.

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