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100 trucks a day to haul sand to Key Biscayne beaches

Work to add 44,000 tons of sand to eroded beaches on the eastern boundary of the Village of Key Biscayne is expected to begin the first week of June.

An estimated 100 trucks will be delivering the sand daily to the island during the 30- to 45-day project.

The $1.57 million re-nourishment, designed and permitted by Coastal Systems International on behalf of the village, will require 2,200 truckloads to be brought in weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

"This is a challenge because we are only allowed to operate during the village's construction hours," said Village Manager John Gilbert in reference to traffic concerns.

Marine turtle nesting permit requirements will also limit work to daylight hours.

The new sand, which has been permitted through environmental agencies as beach compatible, will come from E R Jahna Industries' Ortona Sand Mine near Moore Haven, FL.

Contractor Eastman Aggregate Enterprises plans to sequence its trucks from the upland mine to maintain efficient placement on the beach and avoid heavier impacts to traffic.

"The trucks will be sequenced to deliver sand at the staging site at an efficient interval, say every 3 to 5 minutes, over an 8- to10-hour work day," said village beach consultant Tim Blankenship from Coastal Systems International.

Due to environmental issues and cost concerns, the contractors won't be barging in the sand, as is generally done in South Florida coastal areas.

"Shallow water and sea grass beds adjacent to the beach on Key Biscayne have to be protected," said Mr. Blankenship, stressing that barging could damage the environmentally delicate communities.

The sea grass beds were previously harmed in a beach nourishment handled by the US Army Corps of Engineers in1987, said Mr. Blankenship. Over time, he said, the sea grass has recovered, bringing the beds very close to the shoreline along the beach.

The beach fill for the nourishment won't be placed on areas where the sea grass grows due to environmental permitting constraints and the high cost of mitigation.

Also, buying enough sand to fill the sea grass areas as well wouldn't be cost effective for the village, Mr. Blankenship said.

The sand is to go through extensive screening, filtering and washing within a five-story structure at the mine in Ortona to produce a high quality sand beach compatible sand product.

The sand's size, texture and color is similar to what is now on Key Biscayne's beaches, and the quality will not impact marine turtle nesting, Mr. Blankenship said.

Key Biscayne will need to add sand to its beaches more frequently due to the smaller quantities of beach fill limited by the upland sourcing.

"We anticipate two or three more events like this in the next 10 years, which we have the permit for," Mr. Gilbert said.

The 6,440 feet of shoreline to be restored will grow 20 to 40 yards wider, depending on the location.

The Miami Seaquarium, which is on the Virginia Key causeway along the road the trucks will use to bring in the sand, hasn't had traffic impacts over the past couple of years from previous restoration projects along the causeway and drilling of the Port of Miami Tunnel and expects the same scenario this time, said President and General Manager Andrew Hertz.

"We are confident that Miami-Dade County Public Works and Waste Management-Causeway Division working with the Village of Key Biscayne and the Rickenbacker Causeway Traffic Control Committee will insure that there will be no impact on the traffic along the causeway as a result of the Key Biscayne Beach re-nourishment project," Mr. Hertz said.

The Village Council of Key Biscayne plans to provide updated information about the project along with pictures and maps on its website.