Beach renourishment in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Gulf State Park has officially started. The project will include $17 million in projects to add and enhance the shore, dunes and turtle …
Beach renourishment in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Gulf State Park has officially started.
The project will include $17 million in projects to add and enhance the shore, dunes and turtle protections.
According to an Oct. 31 statement from the City of Gulf Shores, contractors began mobilizing their equipment on Oct. 20 and are projected to complete the Gulf Shores portion in January. After that, the project will pick up in Gulf State Park before moving east to Orange Beach and Perdido Key.
Details regarding the project were discussed earlier this summer. Mark Acreman, former city engineer, explained how the project will repair damage that was caused by Hurricanes Nate and Sally.
"The beach actually maintained its width and height until the hurricanes, but once you lose that width and height, beach erosion really picks up," Acreman said at a July city council meeting.
The project crew will be using two dredging vessels to distribute approximately 18,500 cubic yards of sand, equivalent to about 1,240 truck loads per day.
"Crews will focus on sections of approximately 1,500 feet of beach at a time, temporarily closing these areas to the public for around 72 hours to ensure uninterrupted sand replenishment," the statement said. "Public beach accesses will serve as construction access points and equipment storage throughout the project. Any closures will be communicated in advance."
According to the release, patrons can still access the beach areas outside of the work zone, and completed restoration areas and ramps will be placed over the pipes for shoreline access.
"Starting Nov. 1, blue accessibility maps will be temporarily removed from the beach and reinstalled after restoration is finalized," the statement read.
Another goal of the project is to increase the environmental protection at the beaches. According to the statement, sea turtle monitoring and nest relocations have already been carried out, and in-water trawling and monitoring for sea turtles and other wildlife will continue throughout the project.
"A critical part of this project will include rebuilding our dune system," the statement read.
"Dunes will be rebuilt to around 12 feet of elevation, with approximately 500,000 plants and more than 3,000 feet of sand fencing installed along the dune system."
Per a July 2023 article from Gulf Coast Media, approximately 85-95% of the project costs should be reimbursed by FEMA and AEMA due to the damage being caused by Hurricanes Nate and Sally. After reimbursements, the city would owe approximately $6,579,242, which would be funded through the 2% lodging tax instituted to maintain the city's engineered beaches.
"Between 2001 and 2004, the city invested approximately $18 million to construct the first engineered beach projects that are now recognized by FEMA as city infrastructure. As long as the city periodically reinvests in renourishment projects, damages due to a declared disaster are reimbursable by FEMA/AEMA," the document reads. "The 405,000 cubic yards of additional sand included in the restoration work will insure the city maintains FEMA eligibility, provides greater storm protection, wider recreational beaches and extends the life cycle of our beach renourishment by approximately two years."