The Beach Renourishment Project on Captiva Island is ready to move forward.
Less than a month after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers backed out of the project, the bid was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC, for $19.5 million.
The Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD) voted unanimously to hire the lowest bidder to replenish 800,000 cubic yards of sand along six miles of shoreline between Redfish Pass and Blind Pass. Dunes in Captiva and Sanibel will also be rehabilitated.
Two other bids were submitted for the project, from New Jersey-based Weeks Marine Inc. for $25.3 million and Manson Construction Co. from Seattle, Wash., for $31.6 million. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, an Illinois company, had completed the last beach renourishment in 2005.
Administrator Kathy Rooker said CEPD had a contingency plan in case federal funding was no longer available. They are now using a combination of state and county funding, private loans, and budget reserves, she said.
"We didn't put all of our eggs in one basket. We were ready to go and thank goodness we did that," she said. "It turned out to be a good strategy to protect this island."
Even though the Army Corps shocked the CEPD with their last minute decision to rescind the agreement, there weren't any significant delays in moving forward. A pre-construction meeting is scheduled for the beginning of September and work begins in late October. It's expected to be completed by the end of January.
Rooker said both the CEPD and island community knew how important this project was and that's why they planned for the worst case scenario.
"This island is long and thin and very susceptible to storm damage," said Rooker.
The CEPD was informed last month that they were no longer eligible for federal funding.
Col. Alan Dodd, representing the Army Corp, attended a CEPD meeting at Tween' Waters Inn to explain how the project was no longer in compliance with federal policies and regulations having to do with easements and parking at the beach.
"There is no way we can move forward until we are able to resolve the issue with easements and public parking," said Dodd, last month. "We believe this is an important project and we will do whatever we can to support you."
In 2005, Captiva Island received 1.1 million cubic yards of sand along 4.9 miles of shoreline, according to CEPD. Northern Sanibel Island received 244,630 cubic and Bowman's Beach received 90,914 cubic yards.