INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – In the weeks before Christmas, barrier island residents will arise to the rumble and roar of dump trucks toting sand to complete Phase 1 of the beach restoration project which had to be halted when turtle nesting started last May.
The county should have received approval from the state that sand dumped on the beach thus far did not negatively affect the nesting habits of the sea turtles, and expects to receive an okay to proceed with the work by the middle of the month. Work on the beach is not expected to begin until Dec. 1 and it is expected to take 21 days to distribute 36,700 cubic yards of sand on Golden Sands beach, as well as beaches along Sanderling and some sections of Orchid.
Golden Sands Beach will be closed for three weeks while the Phase I job is being completed.
The trucks will follow the same route and run at the same 2-3-minute frequency roughly between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. as was the case earlier this year.
The trucks will travel eastbound on State Road 510 and north on A1A to either Golden Sands Park or Treasure Shores Park, depending on where the sand needs to be distributed.
Public Works Director Chris Mora said he expects the bulk of the truck traffic to occur between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15 for the first phase completion.
The good news for the county is the Phase 1 sand has already been stockpiled and is ready and waiting for delivery. The sand is processed at the mine, tested there before loading, then spot-tested before it is placed on the beach.
One of the lessons learned this year when Phase 1 of the project had to be halted because workers ran out of time was that the mine operation was a creating a bottleneck in the process.
“What we learned was that Ranger (the contractor distributing the sand) can haul sand a lot faster than the mines can produce it,” Commissioner Peter O’Bryan said. “Where the delays came in was the processing and mining of the sand, not in the hauling and spreading.”
To that end, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to prepay Ranger to begin stockpiling sand to avoid any unnecessary delays.
Commissioner Bob Solari was the lone vote against prepayment.
County staff recommended commissioners not pay for the sand before it was spread on the beach – as stipulated in the contract with Ranger – but the other four members of the county board opted to keep the trucks running rather than risk losing sand for which they had already paid.
“To me there is a greater risk of not getting the job done from not getting a running start than there ever is of losing the sand,” said Commissioner Wesley Davis.
Another advantage to stockpiling is that it will compress the schedule of trucking the sand to the beach and the length of time the beaches will be closed.
“We are going to have the comfort of knowing our sand is there and we don’t have to worry about things that can happen that are out of our control,” said Commissioner Gary Wheeler. “The quicker they get in, the quicker they get out, the better it is for Ranger financially, it’s better for us and it is better for the public.”
It is costing the county $15.56 per cubic yard to test, truck and grade sand from Ranch Road and Fischer mines, with the bulk of the sand coming from the former. Ranch Road will be pre-paid $7.50 per cubic yard for its sand and Fischer $6.16 for the sand it stockpiles.
Mora said he expects to receive approval from the state to begin work on Phase 2 this month, but the actual hauling of the sand is not slated to begin until February of 2011.
The second phase of the project will distribute 267,000 cubic yards of sand on a 2.2-mile stretch of beach from Seaview south to Golden Sands Park.
Public Works Director Mora said the state must sign off that the Phase 1 work did not adversely affect the sea turtle population and that the Phase 2 sand is suitable for placement on the beach before work can begin.
If Phase 2 stays on schedule, officials estimate it will take 69 days to complete, including 5 days allotted for weather delays.
The Phase II work will require closing Treasure Shores Park Beach for about 10 weeks from Feb. 1, 2011 to late March and then closing Golden Sands for four weeks from late March to April 30.
Mora expects the peak truck traffic for Phase II to run between February and March.