Historic Egmont Key – the small island that experienced large-scale erosion and structural damage on its western shoreline – will soon receive critical sand thanks to maintenance on the Tampa Harbor channel, reports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District.
The Army Corps recently awarded a $10.3 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company of Oak Brook, Ill., to perform maintenance dredging of the Tampa Harbor Egmont and Mullet Key channel cuts.
According to the Corps, the project plans include beneficially placing dredged sand to help protect historic structures on Egmont Key. In 2014, the Corps also installed geotextile tubes and sand on Egmont Key to help stabilize the beach.
The maintenance will remove up to 565,000 cubic yards of shoaled sand along 17 miles of channel to improve navigation safety. USACE anticipates operations will start in late October or early November and continue for roughly five months.
“Sand placement will start in the center of Egmont Key’s west side, which is currently the most severely eroded portion of the island,” said Corps Project Engineer Tony Castro. “After the center is stabilized, the operation will move to the north end of the island and begin filling southward to cover the geotextile tubes.”
Although the dredged sand is not an exact match to that found on Egmont Key, the beneficial placement is supported by the Corps, NOAA Fisheries, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and local agencies.
“Reusing dredge sand from the local area will benefit the ecosystem surrounding Egmont Key in many ways,” said Mark Sramek, a habitat conservation biologist for NOAA Fisheries. “It will protect some of Tampa Bay’s most important living marine resources, as well as provide shoreline stabilization to protect the island’s historic and cultural resources.”
Historic structures that are in peril include portions of Fort Dade, an 1899 coastal defense system that was completed in 1906. The island is also home to a lighthouse built in 1858 and still in use today. A number of state, federal and private entities actually own and manage Egmont Key, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Tampa Bay Pilots.