Project completed, Bathtub Reef Beach is open to the public

May 16, 2017

Stuart News - Bathtub Beach Beckons Again

Spring 2017 Construction Updates

Construction Updated 4-27-17

Bathtub Beach closing for two weeks
Renourishment project in final stages

The construction project to rebuild the Bathtub Beach/Sailfish Point beach area is entering its final phase, with construction expected to continue through mid-May. Beginning Friday, April 28, construction will move into the County’s Bathtub Reef Beach Park area. During this time the beach will become a construction area and beach access will be restricted.

The north half of the public beach will be accessible from Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30.

Beginning May 1 through project completion, there will be no access to the beach at Bathtub Reef Beach Park.

Parking will be restricted to the northern portion of the parking lot for the duration of the project.

“We know it’s hard for our residents and guests who love Bathtub Beach to hear that it will be closed temporarily,” says Martin County Coastal Engineer Kathy FitzPatrick. “For Bathtub Beach, though, this is a very good thing. We’ll repair the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew and the storms of 2016, using high quality sand from shoals inside the inlet, and provide a good nesting beach for the sea turtles and improved storm protection for the park and MacArthur Boulevard.”

Beach walkers may still be able to walk along the beach on some days during construction at Bathtub Beach, but in the interest of safety, there will be days when even walking to and from the inlet along the beach at Bathtub will not be possible.

During this time, beachgoers are encouraged to visit other nearby Martin County beaches, each of which has its own personality and amenities. Jensen Beach and Stuart Beach, for example, both offer great sand, a refreshment stand, bathrooms, showers, lifeguards and plenty of parking. Other nearby beaches like Bob Graham, Chastain, Santa Lucea and Tiger Shores Beaches are quiet and less developed options. A list of all of Martin County beaches is available at http://geoweb.martin.fl.us/parkfinder/.

Construction Update 4-4-17

Access to Sandbar Limited through Month of April

Boaters’ access to the popular sandbar west of the Sailfish Point Marina will be limited from now until April 30 as a part of the 2017 Bathtub Beach Re-nourishment Project.

Boating lanes will be reduced from two lanes to just one lane during the month to accommodate the dredging lines that are pumping sand from the navigational inlet onto the beach.

“This is a necessary inconvenience,” according to the Martin County Engineering staff. “We need to dredge built-up sand out of Sailfish Point’s navigational channel, or eventually boats won’t be able to get through. Fortunately, that gives us the sand we need to repair the damage to Bathtub Beach from Hurricane Matthew and the storms from the fall of 2016. Boats can get through during this period; it will just take a little more time and patience.”

Construction Update 3-10-17

Bathtub Beach Re-Nourishment Begins March 13

Stuart Causeway Parking Area to Close Intermittently

Bathtub Beach will undergo re-nourishment this spring, with 86,000 cubic yards of sand from Borrow Area A, the Sailfish Point Navigational Channel.

The first step in the six-week project is to fuse and lay pipes. Starting Monday, March 13, a portion of the Stuart Cause Way southeast parking area will be closed intermittently through March 25 while pipes are placed in the water.

During the re-nourishment process, the beach itself will be closed, although the parking lot and pavilion will remain accessible. The area for re-nourishment runs from the north end of the beach and runs south into Sailfish Point. Martin County has contracted with Ferreira Construction for the project, which will be completed no later than midnight on April 30, 2017.

The re-nourishment of Bathtub Beach is a FEMA Hurricane Recovery Project.


Spring 2016 Construction Updates

Construction Update 6-18-16

The Martin County Board of County Commissioners are pleased to announce that construction is complete and Bathtub Reef Beach is officially open! 

Construction Update 5-13-16

Dredging & Pumping are complete, Parking Lot Construction Begins

Contractors estimate that well in excess of 300,000 cubic yards of sand has been placed on the beach. All of the engineered design templates for the size and shape of the beach are generously filled and tilling is completed.  Project managers walked the entire project area and declare that the project was a success and it looks great.  All pipeline that was on the beach has been removed in time to allow turtle nesting season to continue without interruption.

County engineers are in the final planning stages for the beach reopening.  The pavilion is nearing completion and the parking lot is under construction. Plans for the expanded parking lot - 100 spaces - looks to be completed by mid-June, when project managers plan to reopen the beach to the public.

Construction update 4-27-16

The Lori Hill & The Lady Mimi

Project managers are happy to report that as of this afternoon, both dredges are working. Both the Lori Hill and the Lady Mimi are settled in the impoundment basin for the final leg of the project.

Sand is being pumped onto Bathtub beach on the North & South ends of the beach. Martin County engineers are working very closely with the project contractors.  All parties are doing everything possible to ensure the project is
completed.  As previously reported, Mother Nature slowed the project with high seas and strong winds.  Project coordinators have requested an extension to give the time needed so the project can be done right and meet all environmental standards.

 

Construction update 4-22-16

Strong Winds Slowing the Process

Strong winds and high seas have slowed recent progress on the project.  The Lori Hill is pumping sand on outgoing tides, and the Lady Mimi is ready to remobilize when the winds calm and swells subside.  Winds are shifting out of the southeast and east but are expected out of the northeast at intervals after the weekend.  Martin County and project engineers are focused on completing the fill of the beach profile before May 1st.  As soon as it is feasible, the contractors will join the pipeline that runs from the Lady Mimi up the full length of the beach to nourish Bathtub. The pipe sections already are aligned on the beach awaiting calmer conditions.  In the meantime contractors have been trucking sand up to Bathtub and expect to have the template for that portion
filled by the weekend.

 

Construction update 4-7-16

Two dredges working, dune planting & gazebo construction!

Dredging was turned up to double time this week. The second barge that was on standby, moved into the impoundment basin and began working. Dredging continues in Borrow Area A as well. Engineers are working diligently to ensure that not only is  the project completed on time but  that all environmental standards are kept at the highest level possible. Dune planting has begun on the south end of the project and will begin at Bathtub this week. Construction has also started on the new restroom facilities!  Engineers have spent numerous hours planning the new facility so that the public and the new dunes will be properly protected upon completion.

Construction update 3-30-16

Renourishing the sand isn’t the only thing happening during the project. Construction is beginning on the parking lot, restrooms and the gazebo. Planners are collaborating to get the maximum parking spaces with a smooth flow of traffic. All of the existing sea grape trees are planned to be maintained. The Gazebo is going to be raised so the appropriate dune can be placed underneath it. The restrooms are also being renovated for better convenience and safety. Regarding the sand, engineers are planning to bring in a second dredge into the impoundment basin next week. This will keep the project moving and hopefully put it ahead of schedule.

Construction update 3-28-16

Dredging Has Moved

Dredging has moved from Borrow Area C to Borrow Area A.  Dredging should continue through the end of this week.  After dredging has been completed in Borrow Area A, the dredgers will move to the Impoundment Basin where dredging will continue until the project is complete.  Despite some unfavorable  weather conditions, the project has been moving along and is halfway to completion.

The Sand is Clean

Residents and boaters have asked whether we should worry about the sand being pumped onto the beach from the inlet because of all the warnings about Lake Okeechobee discharges that carry harmful bacteria. We received this answer from Don Donaldson, Chief Martin County Engineer: "No, they should not be worried about the beach.  We have a Health Department Water Sample Report that indicates the water at the sand bar has
been good since February 15, 2016. The sand is not an active breeding ground for the bacteria and the clean ocean water disperses the pollutants rapidly when they are present."

3/21 Construction Update

Clearing Basin, Channel Will Extend Duration Between County's Dredging

County Engineer Kathy Fitzpatrick, who is heading the Joint Project, says that removing some sand from the impoundment basin now is good news for Martin County. Another County priority is to remove the shoal from the navigation channel, which the contractors say will take two or three days. Dredging the channel and the impoundment basin during this beach renourishment project will benefit home and condominium owners along the inlet as well as boaters and taxpayers because it adds a year or more to the interval between channel dredges by the County. The contractors report that a second dredge now is ready to mobilize at any time to handle the impoundment basin and the navigation channel.

Turtle Update

Nesting turtles have yet to appear on Bathtub Beach and the Sailfish Point beach, but they have  appeared on beaches north and south of us. Only Leatherbacks have been sighted on those beaches thus far. 

Environmental experts explain that the turtles naturally are drawn to darker beaches. The lights from the heavy equipment, which works throughout the nights on our renourishment project, are likely deter them from crawling onto our beach. In addition, turtle nesting tends to be very strong one year and then taper off considerably the next. Last season was a really good nesting year, setting records in some areas, so experts expect fewer nests now. 

Construction update 3-11

Beach Renourishment Joint Project
Status Report

After one week of pumping sand onto the beach, the word from the engineering team running the Joint Beach Project is, "Problems encountered, problems solved."  The weather forecast is favorable through at least next Tuesday, and the team anticipates no further complications. Enough sand now has been placed on the beach that they have begun grading the final beach profile over the first 300 feet and more.

Turbidity Monitoring Flags Problem

The construction zone constantly is monitored to guard against adverse environmental impacts. One reliable yardstick is turbidity in the water just offshore.

Some days ago, the dredge encountered sand from one small piece of Borrow Area C that was heavily laden with organic material and it spewed black, unsuitable sand from the discharge pipe, immediately halting work due to the resulting turbidity as well as lack of quality. When work resumed and good quality sand was discharged from the end of the pipe onto the beach, the black material in the turbidity channel was kicked up once more, again halting work.

The turbidity channel was shored up and lengthened, the undesirable sediment finally dissipated, and now only clear, clean sand is flowing from the pipe.

To avoid future delays from excess turbidity in the water, Ferreira Construction has streamlined communication between the dredge operators and those at the discharge pipe to alert them immediately and halt pumping of any bad sand. The construction team has refined the protocol to follow if more organic material is unearthed, which should minimize further shutdowns.

Another potential source of turbidity is the dirty water coming east from releases out of Lake Okeechobee. The team is investigating the implications of these dark, fresh water discharges and will compare the natural salt water against the lake discharge. The County is working on a formula to measure the differences.

Martin County Coastal Engineer Kathy Fitzpatrick, who is directing the overall Joint Beach Project, emphasizes that the team intends to tackle any problem head on, to make it right and to ensure that no environmental damage is done.

Excellent Sand Elsewhere in Borrow Area C

The dredge has moved farther south within Area C, where the material is of excellent quality with only a trace of silt. The dredge has been excavating down to 12.5 feet; however, samplings have shown the sand to be excellent as deep as 13.8 feet. The contractors will watch the discharges closely as they pump out this deeper material and react immediately if the quality deteriorates.

The coastal engineer for the joint project, says that the shoulders at far north end of Borrow Area C are where they are likely to find the bad material and so will be avoided, and the south regions are where good sand was found in earlier samplings.

 

Construction update from 2-28 to 3-3

Beach Renourishment Joint Project
Status Report

After one week of pumping sand onto the beach, the word from the engineering team running the Joint Beach Project is, "Problems encountered, problems solved."  The weather forecast is favorable through at least next Tuesday, and the team anticipates no further complications. Enough sand now has been placed on the beach that they have begun grading the final beach profile over the first 300 feet and more.

Turbidity Monitoring Flags Problem

The construction zone constantly is monitored to guard against adverse environmental impacts. One reliable yardstick is turbidity in the water just offshore. 

Some days ago, the dredge encountered sand from one small piece of Borrow Area C that was heavily laden with organic material and it spewed black, unsuitable sand from the discharge pipe, immediately halting work due to the resulting turbidity as well as lack of quality. When work resumed and good quality sand was discharged from the end of the pipe onto the beach, the black material in the turbidity channel was kicked up once more, again halting work. 

The turbidity channel was shored up and lengthened, the undesirable sediment finally dissipated, and now only clear, clean sand is flowing from the pipe. 

To avoid future delays from excess turbidity in the water, the contractor on the project has streamlined communication between the dredge operators and those at the discharge pipe to alert them immediately and halt pumping of any bad sand. The construction team has refined the protocol to follow if more organic material is unearthed, which should minimize further shutdowns. 

Another potential source of turbidity is the dirty water coming east from releases out of Lake Okeechobee. The team is investigating the implications of these dark, fresh water discharges and will compare the natural salt water against the lake discharge. The County is working on a formula to measure the differences.

Martin County Coastal Engineering, who is directing the overall Joint Beach Project, emphasizes that the team intends to tackle any problem head on, to make it right and to ensure that no environmental damage is done.

Excellent Sand Elsewhere in Borrow Area C

The dredge has moved farther south within Area C, where the material is of excellent quality with only a trace of silt. The dredge has been excavating down to 12.5 feet; however, samplings have shown the sand to be excellent as deep as 13.8 feet. The contractors will watch the discharges closely as they pump out this deeper material and react immediately if the quality deteriorates.

The coastal engineer for the joint project, says that the shoulders at far north end of Borrow Area C are where they are likely to find the bad material and so will be avoided, and the south regions are where good sand was found in earlier samplings.

 

Construction update for February 22-28th

Pumping of sand from the St. Lucie Inlet onto the Sailfish Point north beach commenced Thursday. Unfavorable winds out of the southeast and a full-moon tide had combined with a fierce current to make fusing the final section of the dredge pipeline extremely difficult during the previous week. Much of the work could be performed only at slack tide.

The last piece of the weighted pipe -- the section that crosses the inlet navigation channel -- was the most difficult to set and finally was floated, bolted and attached with anchors on Wednesday. The pipe is marked with lighted buoys every 33 feet across the inlet to warn boaters.

Calmer weather as we turn toward spring is anticipated to hasten the progress of the renourishment. Martin County engineers, who are running the project, have requested that the contractor dredge the inlet navigation channel after completion of Borrow Area C, then to be followed by Borrow Area A. At least 80 percent of A and C will be completed before the expected dredging of the impoundment basin.

The contractors note that a west wind is most favorable for work in the inlet. Southeast winds are the least favorable, and high southeast winds have the potential to disrupt or slow work on the project.

Beach Rebuilding Begins

The dredge that is pumping sand across the inlet toward the beach is working from east to west on Borrow Area C and will be there for approximately one month. As sand is discharged from the end of the pipe to create the new beach, the crew continually will move up the beach. The contractor expects to move the discharge pipe north about 600 feet over the next week.

Dredging & Pumping are Complete

Parking Lot Construction Begins