The Town of Hilton Head Island has long recognized that its beaches are a vital asset to its residents and the Island's economy. In an effort to maintain the Island's beaches in the best possible condition, the Town utilizes beach restoration as part of its long-term strategy. In February of 2007, work was completed on the Town's most recent beach restoration project. Town Council funded the entire 16.6 million dollar project, and plans to fund future renouishments, primarily by tourism via the local Beach Preservation Fee.
The 2006 beach renourishment of the Atlantic oceanfront shoreline was similar to the projects constructed in 1990 and 1997 with the exception of certain design refinements near the Marriott and along North Forest Beach . Additional beach width was constructed as advance nourishment, near the central portion of the Island in the vicinity of North Forest Beach . This was necessitated by the additional erosional stress at that location. Also, a 2006 investigation showed that the Port Royal sound shoreline was suffering chronic erosion. Because of the severity of the problem, the Town elected to include beach stabilization along the Port Royal Sand shoreline between the tip of the Island and Fish Haul Creek.
The 2006 renourishment project included three principal parts:
As with previous projects, the nourishment sand was excavated by hydraulic dredge from two offshore shoal features. Some 50,000 feet of pipeline was trucked or floated to the island by way of large rafts, then moved onto the beach by a barge and crane during low tide. The 30-inch diameter pipeline wase piled in stacks along the shoreline until needed during construction. This unique "delivery by water" minimized impacts to the Island's already busy roadways. During construction, the Contractor submerged many miles of pipeline on the ocean floor between the offshore borrow sites and the beach.
The rest of the pipeline was laid progressively along the newly constructed beach as the fill sand was pumped on shore. The dredge pumped a mixture of sand and seawater through the pipeline, and discharged it onto the beach. There it flowed parallel to the shoreline - allowing the sand to settle out and the water to return to the sea. Bulldozers and other heavy construction machinery constantly shaped the sand to meet the design specifications.
The entire project construction lasted approximately 5 months. Because the project is extremely large, construction operations proceeded around the clock. On average, the filling process moved along the shoreline at a rate of about 200 to 300 feet per day. Because the active work area may spread out at least 1,000 feet or more along the beach, several days of work activity occured seaward of any one piece of oceanfront property. Although the only noise typifying the construction process is that of the bulldozers shaping the sand as it was deposited, adjacent property owners, or renters, may have suffered short term minor inconveniences. This impact generally lasted for three or four days at a time as the renourishment operation moved past each property within the project limits.
Similarly, as the fill placement progressed, thousand-foot sections of the beach were closed temporarily to pedestrian access. Once placed and rough-graded, however, the new beach was immediately reopened to the public.
The benefits of preserving the Island's beaches are numerous. The beaches of Hilton Head Island are not only an asset to all facets of the island's environment and economy, but also to the general ambiance and way of life for the thousands of individuals who have elected to reside here - and the many more who visit.
If you have questions regarding the 2006 Beach Renourishment Project please contact Scott Liggett, Director of Public Projects & Facilities at (843)341-4776.