Town proceeding with plans to patch Hilton Head shoreline

tbarton@islandpacket.com

February 15, 2014 

The ocean is rapidly eating away at the beach near these home in the Ocean Point area of Port Royal Plantation in this photo taken on Friday. Fortunately, the Town of Hilton Head Island began soliciting bids last week to add up to 35,000 cubic yards of sand to patch the 2,000-foot-long swath of eroding shoreline. The $1 million project comes about two years after a $9.8 million project to bolster and protect a mile of the island's heel near Port Royal Plantation. Unlike the project completed in Spring 2012, the renourishment is small enough to need only dump trucks to move the sand -- not an offshore dredging pump. The town plans to truck the sand in from a mine in Hardeeville. That has riled at least one nearby homeowner, upset at the disruption that would be caused by truck traffic going through the quiet residential neighborhood.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr Buy Photo

A small swath of shoreline near Hilton Head Island's heel continues to erode and requires quick intervention, according to town officials.

The town began soliciting bids last week to add as much as 35,000 cubic yards of sand to patch a 2,000-foot-long section of shoreline at Ocean Point in Port Royal Plantation.

Bids are due back Feb. 27. Town Council is expected to consider proposals in early March and award a contract then, said Scott Liggett, town director of public projects. Work would begin this spring and be completed by June 30, he said.

State environmental regulators have approved the project. The town awaits a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Liggett said.

The town plans to truck in the sand from a mine in Hardeeville. That has riled at least one nearby homeowner, upset that truck traffic will go through the neighborhood. The town has asked contractors to estimate how much it would cost to deliver the sand by barge, as a possible alternative.

Unlike a 2012 project, the renourishment is small enough to allow sand to be moved by dump truck and will not require an offshore dredging pump. The amount of sand to be placed, however, equals nearly 3,000 truckloads, Liggett said.

An attempt Friday to reach Paul Schlosser, whose house sits at the end of Ocean Point, was unsuccessful.

In November, Schlosser told The Island Packet he wants the town to place wire baskets filled with sandbags or other material along the beach as a temporary solution until sand can be pumped by dredge in 2015.

State law, though, largely prohibits the placement of seawalls, rock revetments and the like on the beach. The temporary use of sandbags may only be done by emergency order, in the event of imminent threat to a structure, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The Port Royal Landowners Association supports the town's plan, according to general manager Lance Pyle.

The $1 million project comes about two years after a $9.8 million project to bolster and protect a mile of beach near Port Royal Plantation.

The shoreline of the island's heel is hit particularly hard by erosion because of currents in Port Royal Sound. Waiting a year until the next islandwide beach-fill project could be too risky, Liggett said.

If the erosion continues -- at the rate of about 30 feet per year, according to a 2010 survey -- it could damage oceanfront properties, Liggett said, though no homes are in immediate danger.

In November, town officials debated whether to move forward with the project, but northeasterly winds and high tides caused the beach to retreat farther this winter, Liggett said.

"The situation has not improved out there," he said. "We continue to lose dunes and the vegetative buffer that lies between the ocean and the private property, ... and the shoreline continues to retreat landward."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

Related content:

Hilton Head resident questions method to patch shoreline: Nov. 30, 2013

Town of Hilton Head Island: Ocean Point interim beach fill project

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