By DOTTY NIST
Walton County’s second large-scale beach restoration project is on track for construction to begin in late 2014, pending all necessary approvals being obtained.
Brad Pickel, beach management consultant for the Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC), provided updates on the project both to the TDC and to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on Aug. 13.
The project is now known as the Walton County, Florida Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project and is considered a federal project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) development and review process for the beach nourishment project was completed on July 16 with the ACOE’s Chief of Engineers Thomas Bostick’s signing of the feasibility study for the project. The next step will be garnering approval of the U.S. Congress for construction.
Pickel noted that the project will also require approval by the assistant secretary of the U.S Army.
He explained that the project is to cover 18.8 miles of Walton County’s coastline—almost all of the coastline that is not part of the state parks. It is to include the 5.2 miles on the west end that were restored in the county’s first large-scale beach restoration project, which was completed in 2007. According to reports, that previous restoration effort has held up well, and much less work is expected to be required in that area.
Pickel said that between 960 and 970 easements from beachfront property owners will be required for the project.
He explained that the offshore sand to be used as a source will come from the same geologic sand body as was used for the recently-completed project in the Holiday Isle area of Destin, which had good results.
The sand source has been checked to make sure it is free of oil from the BP spill, Pickel commented, and will be checked again before construction.
There will be three pieces to the project, he noted, raising the beach, building the dune, and extending the project into the water.
The project is expected to cost $61 million and is to be funded through the TDC and other sources that are not to include the county budget.
The preliminary engineering and design phase of the project is now underway, Pickel noted.
He said workshops would be held in December to provide detailed information on the project to beachfront property owners and the community in general. Dates for the workshops are to be announced once scheduled.
Surveying for the project is to begin in late August to determine the current condition of the dunes, beaches, and offshore areas. That process is expected to take between four and six weeks to complete.