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Panama City Beach to get more sand

Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach (j.s. clark/Wikimedia Commons)

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – At the very least, sandcastle aficionados soon will have plenty of new, premium building material in Panama City Beach.

Work began on the third-largest beach renourishment project ever in PCB earlier this month. During the next four to five months, about 12 miles of white, sandy beaches will be restored to their proper states after being heavily eroded by Hurricanes Michael and Sally.

According to the Bay County Tourism Development Council, about 2.1 million cubic yards of sand will be placed during the $28.5 million, federally-funded project. That’s the equivalent of 424,145,454.5 gallons, enough to fill more than 642 Olympic swimming pools.

The fifth renourishment of Bay County beaches has started with work in the Carillon Beach area on Monday.

The project extends from Pinnacle Port to the PCB City Pier and from St. Andrews State Park (not including the park) to Ocean Towers. The middle of the beach, from the City Pier to Ocean Towers, will not be renourished because it did not experience enough erosion to justify construction.

While not directly receiving sand placement, the middle reach will benefit from the sand placement occurring to the west and east, the TDC says.

Because the project is federally funded, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will manage all construction work. The Bay County TDC, on behalf of Bay County, will serve as the local sponsor for the project and stay in constant communication and coordination with the Corps of Engineers.

“This project is super important,” said Philip Griffitts, Bay County commissioner and member of the TDC board. “Army Corps of Engineers surveys show that the No. 1 reason people continue to come here is still the beach.”

The federal funding was made possible following Michael and Sally, Griffitts said.

“Both of those events were pretty detrimental,” he said.

The fifth renourishment of Bay County beaches has started with work in the Carillon Beach area on Monday.

Equipment and pipeline continue to be delivered to the west end project area beach, the TDC states. Active dredging and placement of sand on the beach has begun in the Carillon Beach area.

Construction should progress at a rate of 500 feet to 1,500 feet per day. Barring any temporary work stoppages, this means the active construction area might be in front of residents’ properties for only a couple of days.

The sand for large-scale beach nourishment projects comes from permitted, offshore “borrow areas.” The main borrow area is located about 1.5 miles offshore of Shell Island and secondary borrow areas are located near the St. Andrews Bay entrance channel.

The project is not expected to impact sea turtles, as their nesting season has wrapped up for the year. There are permitted procedures in place for relocation of nests that could be laid late in the season that would be impacted by the start of construction in September and October.

While this latest project is third largest of its kind ever in PCB, it’s also only the fifth for the area.

The fifth renourishment of Bay County beaches has started with work in the Carillon Beach area on Monday.

“It takes years to pull these projects off,” Griffitts said. “It’s a very big process once it gets going.”

The initial restoration in Panama City Beach in 1998-1999 placed about 9.8 million cubic yards of sand along the 18.5 miles of beaches. The 2005-2006 project placed about 3.3 million cubic yards of sand along 17.5 miles of beaches and it was conducted in response to 2004’s Hurricane Ivan.

The 2011 project placed about 1.3 million cubic yards of sand along 7.5 miles of the beaches (east and west ends) and was referred to as a “repair” project, as it was conducted in response to several storms following Hurricane Ivan. That project also formally incorporated a project at Pinnacle Port and Carillon Beach.

The 2017 project placed about 840,000 cubic yards of sand along four project areas — a half-mile at Pinnacle Port/Carillon Beach, a 1-mile segment stretching west from the City Pier, a 1-mile segment stretching west from the County Pier, and a 1-mile segment stretching from the western end of St. Andrews State Park to Gulf Drive/Hurt Street.