First sand in Beach Renourishment Project pumped at County Pier

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - If you plan to visit some popular sections of Panama City Beach during the next month, you may find they are construction zones.

"We have the best beaches in the world. You know, to continue our renourishment project is really very exciting for us," Dan Rowe, Tourism Development Council (TDC) Director, said.

The Interim Beach Renourishment Project, funded largely by the "Third Cent" Bed Tax, started Tuesday.

The $14.1 Million project is renourishing some popular beach spots by using sand from the gulf's bottom to expand and build up the beach. The four areas are the County Pier, City Pier, Treasure Island, and Pinnacle Port.

The TDC first started renourishing the beaches in 1999 with the last dredging taking place in 2011.  

"The reason we do these projects is primarily storm protection for structures and infrastructure upland of the beach," Beach Management Consultant Lisa Armbruster said.  "However, there's also a recreational benefit. There's a benefit to species that use the beach like sea turtles and shore birds."

The Dredging Contractor Weeks Marine out of Louisiana started work at the County Pier Tuesday. Crews are dredging the sand from about three miles offshore of Thomas Drive then pumping it onto the beach.

"It comes out as a sand slurry, and the sand is sort of dropping out as the water is washing away, and they'll just keep reworking the sand and rebuilding the beach to the design," Armbruster said.

Crews will spend about two weeks renourishing the County Pier then move onto the other three sites. In all, the company will pump 840,000 cubic yards of sand into the four spots.

"This is really good for everybody to make sure that all of Panama City Beach is wide and stable by the time we get into the summer," Rowe said.

Tourism officials gave the company a strict completion date of May 1st, just in time for tourist season but more importantly turtle nesting season.

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