Corps to add 1.3 million cubic yards of sand to Tybee beach
Tybee is poised to get sandier.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers will contract to add 1 million to 1.3 million cubic yards of sand along the beaches of Tybee Island at a cost of about $12 million. As part of the agreement, Tybee will add an additional $2.6 million for dune work beyond the scope of the federal project.
That’s about 72,000 dump trucks worth of sand, though it won’t be trucked, of course. It’ll be pumped onto beaches from a natural reserve of sand located about a mile off the island. The additional sand will add protection for the community against future storm damage. And it’ll widen the beach; an extra 100 feet of width is expected at 17th Street. The project prioritizes the beaches at the south end, Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman said, but will reach as far north as the funding allows.
“It provides greater storm protection, enhanced recreation, it’s environmentally friendly,” said Col. Daniel Hibner, commander of the Corps’ Savannah District. “So the city wins, the residents win, the visitors win, and the wildlife wins. It really is a great project for everybody.”
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican who represents the Georgia coast, said the beach renourishment was among the ways that Tybee was adapting to and mitigating for climate change.
“We have to mitigate the risks that go along with rising sea levels,” he said. “We understand that is happening.”
The upcoming project will add about five times more sand than did the supplemental project in 2018, a renourishment after Hurricane Matthew.
Hibner and Buelterman signed a Project Partnership Agreement on Thursday afternoon at a sunny ceremony on the beach at 17th Street, with a couple lounging on lime green rafts behind them in the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop.
“I’ll tell you, I, when I joined the service 26 years ago, I never thought as part of my job would be going to the beach,” Hiber joked. “So this is great.”
The beach work will take 60 to 90 days and is scheduled to end by Jan. 30, 2020. All work will be completed during an authorized environmental window to avoid nesting sea turtles. The same window also avoids the height of tourist season. Federal funds for the project came through Congressional appropriation following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Bids for the project will be opened in October.
Tybee’s part of the project is funded from a $5 million award to the city from the state under then Gov. Nathan Deal to help repair beaches after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. The city plans to fill in the gaps in its dune system, particularly in places like Second and Center streets, as well as the Butler Avenue curve where storm surge can rush through and damage nearby homes.