Beach Renourishment Project Under Way (USA)

Plum Island residents take note: “Dredging to begin… Expect noise and light,” proclaims the flashing lighted sign by Salisbury Beach State Reservation.

The message is one that will soon resonate with some Plum Island neighbors across the way.

No, aliens aren’t invading – the sign is a reminder to residents and visitors that the project to bring sand to the beach there and on Plum Island could bring with it some temporary disruption to daily life.

The Salisbury reminder offers a little taste of what residents might experience once dredging gets underway. Work will begin on Salisbury and then move to this side of the river next week.

The massive project has two goals: the dredging helps to keep the mouth of the Merrimack navigable for boats and the deposited sand is meant to shore up portions of the beaches which have been eaten away by erosion in recent years. On Plum Island the erosion even threatens houses, which can be seen perched precariously over the sand in some spots.

Residents and visitors will see giant construction equipment, spotlights and some noise as the massive project to replenish the beaches gets going. The large dredge, Illinois, is already here and can be spied from various vantage points around Newburyport and Salisbury.

Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Tim Dugan said Wednesday workers will likely start pumping sand on Salisbury Beach today.

The work schedule is subject to change as it is dependent on weather and other factors, but the new schedule means the sand will be pumped onto Plum Island early to mid-week.

Once the workers are on site you won’t be able to miss them.

The dredging work will go non-stop, said Dugan, and will include “lights on the beach,” large pipes and earth-moving equipment.

That 24-hour nature of the project is done with a quick finish in mind, he said. The quicker the work goes, “the less impact to the public,” he said.

An information sheet from the Army Corps of Engineer advises “there will be some noise generated by the equipment and the pumping. In addition, the shore equipment uses back up alarms, which for obvious safety reasons, cannot be turned off. Movement of small rocks through the pipe, from time to time, may also cause noise.”

Lights will be used “on the beach in the immediate area of discharge and dune-building operations at night.”

Most areas of the beaches will remain open during the work, but a “portion of the beach near the pipe outflow will be closed for safety purposes, and this closed portion will move daily as work progresses,” according to the statement.

A system of 30-inch diameter pipes will convey 40,000 cubic yards of sand onto Salisbury Beach and about 120,000 years of sand to Plum Island. The series of pipes relaying the dredged sand will bypass the Newburyport beach, as it will be submerged offshore.

Mark Habel of the Army Corps of Engineers previously told the Current that boaters will need to stay 100 feet away from the dredger.

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock of Illinois had the winning bid – $5.5 million – for the work in the second round of bids for the project.

The beach nourishment project is being funded by the federal government, the state and the two local municipalities.

By Mary Jo Shafer (wickedlocal)


Source: wickedlocal, September 18, 2010;