One would be hard pressed to find a local effort as snake-bit as the beach restoration of St. Joseph Peninsula.
The long-delayed project, now at least two years behind the original timeline mapped out by county officials and the county’s engineering consultant, has now been delayed several weeks due to breakdown by the contractor on another job.
Where it had been sand in the beach in August, it is now sand on the beach in September.
Manson Construction, contracted to perform the beach project, suffered a breakdown on its current job.
That translates into a delay of two weeks or so, county officials say, with mobilization, hoped to be already underway, is not likely for about two weeks.
“It was sand on the beach before the end of August but now it will probably be the first or second week of September,” said Assistant County Administrator Warren Yeager. “There should be sand on the beach in September.”
Another slight alteration to the project may come courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Yeager said due to an emergency along the Mississippi River, the Corps had asked Manson to use a smaller dredge than originally scheduled for the Gulf County project.
If that request comes to pass, the project could be extended beyond the original 45-day estimate for completion.
The project is due to begin at the southern end of the project area, with sand pumped from just south of the Scallop Cove convenience store to the Stump Hole rock revetment.
Once that section is completed, pumping will move north to Billy Joe Rish State Park.
The goal is to replace sand from a 2008-2009 restoration project on the southern end which has accreted to the north.
The hope is that restoring the southern beaches will in time help bolster northern peninsula beaches as natural currents move sand south to north.
The restoration project has been in the works for more than four years; at that time the county’s consulting engineer warned structures would be impacted if new sand was not on the beach within two years.
That prediction proved accurate as some structures have been impacted by storm erosion the past two years.
Coastal property owners have paid additional taxes for several years to provide the local match for the $10 million project.
The restoration project will stop at Billy Joe Rish Park and pick up again to the north at Eagle Harbor as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection addresses the cut made by Hurricane Michael in T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
Once the cut, now known as “Michael’s Cut,” is completely filled and stabilized, the FDEP will begin the construction of a road to connect to the north end of the park infrastructure, including campgrounds and hiking/nature trails.