Heavy machinery is being mobilized on the northern end of Captiva Island for the start of the beach renourishment project.
The bid for the project was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC, in August, for $19.5 million, which includes a replenishment of 800,000 cubic yards of sand along six miles of shoreline between Redfish Pass and Blind Pass, as well as the rehabilitation of dunes in northern Sanibel.
Kathy Rooker, administrator for the Captiva Erosion Prevent District (CEPD), updated the community about the project during a meeting of the Captiva Community Panel on Tuesday.
Machinery at the Alison Hagerup Beach Park. Mckenzie Cassidy.
Engineers have been taking pictures of local structures to record their conditions before the project begins, and Rooker said the precondition survey should be finished by the end of the week.
In the meantime, bulldozers and other machinery are mobilizing at the Alison Hagerup Beach Park the northernmost public beach access point on Captiva Island which is closed to the public. It will remain closed until further notice. On Thursday morning, locals living near Jensen's curve will be able to see ships on the horizon as they begin to drop the submerged pipe.
Seismographs will also be installed on the beach to measure vibrations caused by the machinery.
"We're very much on schedule," said Rooker. "We expect to put sand on the beach Oct. 1, if the weather and equipment cooperates. We hope to be off Captiva by the week of Thanksgiving."
Dredgers will leave the area after Thanksgiving, she said, and begin work on Sanibel after the holiday. One of the primary concerns for CEPD was ensuring that the project didn't disrupt the island season.
"We really hope we've done a good job to stay out in the high season," she said.
Members of the Captiva Community Panel were concerned about the costs of renourishment shouldered by local property owners. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer rescinded their agreement with CEPD in July.
The project is currently funded with $4.6 million from the state and $6.1 million from the Lee County Commission, but homeowners may need to front an estimated $9 million unless additional funding can be acquired from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The district also has the option of requesting more from the Lee County Commission or transferring $1 million from its reserves to ease the local burden.
CEPD Commissioner Mike Mullins said property owners will contribute roughly 50 percent more than they did in the 2005 dredging, unless another funding source is found.
"I don't think this is quite the same as last time," he said. "I expect everyone will pay more than last time."
Rooker said property owners received a range of costs associated with beach renourishment, and that the current price is within the middle of that range.
"If we do get some FEMA help, that will help us a little more," she said.
The CEPD is project updates on their website, mycepd.com, and brochures are being printed for area businesses to keep people informed.