Mother Nature can be a force to be reckoned with and, for past few years, Folly Beach has been at the receiving end of that force. And while Mother Nature’s wrath blew through quickly with recent hurricanes and did minimal damage, she did manage to take some of Folly Beach’s sand with her, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District will soon be placing approximately 750,000 cubic yards of material along 2.5 miles on the east side of the beach.
“The Folly Beach Storm Damage Reduction Project successfully did its job by protecting the people and property behind the dunes through three major storm events, Joaquin, Matthew and, most recently, Irma, since the renourishment in 2014,” said Wes Wilson, project manager.
This $10 million project was awarded to Marinex Construction Co. Inc. and is funded through federal emergency beach rehabilitation money from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. Construction will begin in March and end in September with beach fill being placed from 8th Street East to north of Summer Place Road and tie into the timber groin which is past the last property on the east end of the island.
Material will be dredged from Folly River, adjacent to the location where sand was dredged during the initial construction project that took place in 1993. The material in Folly River is a very compatible sand source and the Corps is familiar with this location, having used Folly River for past renourishment projects, making this area an ideal sand source for Folly Beach.
“In conjunction with the Folly Beach emergency rehabilitation we will also dredge a small portion of the Folly River Federal Channel and historically, when we dredge that area, we also place fill on Bird Key as a beneficial use for wildlife habitat,” said Wilson. “Placing fill on Bird Key is the least cost disposal site for the operations and maintenance of the Folly River Federal Channel, which enables us to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money and protect the environment.”
Bird Key will receive 40,000 cubic yards of material, or the equivalent of 4,000 dump trucks, and cost $300,000 that will be 100 percent federally-funded.
For this project, the contractor will use a cutterhead dredge, which sucks up sand and water from the floor of the Folly River and pumps it onto the beach through pipes. Elbow pipe segments on the beach direct the sand to where it needs to go and then bulldozers shape the sand.
During active construction, the majority of Folly Beach will be open and available for the public to enjoy. However, due to the amount of beach fill required to fill the template, the contractor will be in each section of the project from five to seven days. These sections are fenced off and are usually about 1,000 feet long, so it’s easy to go around the active construction area. Pipelines running along the beach outside of the fenced area can safely be crossed where the contractor places crossover sand ramps over the pipes. The public should keep away from pipelines and only cross them at the sand crossovers. The contractor works 24 hours a day, seven days a week during construction, usually completing up to a few hundred feet-per-day, barring mechanical or weather/sea condition delays.
“Both the Corps and our non-federal sponsor, City of Folly Beach, acknowledge that construction during the summer will cause temporary inconveniences to people using these stretches of beach for recreation,” said Wilson. “However, beginning the construction project now enables the major, long-term benefits of protecting people and property from storm damage to be realized before the height of hurricane season.”
The City of Folly Beach, in partnership with the State of South Carolina, will be conducting a separate, but concurrent groin rehabilitation project between 8th to 13th Street East.
Updates on where active beach renourishment construction is taking place and where it will be next can be found using the interactive map at https://arcg.is/1CPGD4.