The Fort Myers beach Town Council approved $2.7 million from an $8 million Florida Department of Emergency Management grant to begin hauling new sand onto Fort Myers Beach. The project could begin at the end of next week.
The town wants to get the project started quickly to avoid grappling too much with shorebird nesting season which begins on February 15th. New sand will be hauled in by truck and used to complete the berm project for anyone who signed an easement but did not receive sand the first time around. It will also be used on the beach between the 5,000 block and 8,000 block. That area is basically around Flamingo street, the old Windham Hotel and The Sandpiper resort. The 8,000 block is the Big Carlos Pass area.
During this project scours will be filled in and 9 beach accesses will be repaired so they are more in line with ADA requirements. Earth Tech Enterprises is the contractor the town hired to haul in the new sand.
This project is not the big beach renourishment project which involves piping sand in from the Gulf of Mexico. That bigger project had to be delayed because it came in $14 million over budget (the budget is $22 million). Bids for the big renourishment project came in so high because strict FDEP rules to protect birds and turtles provided contractors with a very tight work window to get this job done. Shorebird breeding season dates for this project area are February 15 through September 1st. FDEP permit conditions prohibit construction in the Critical Wildlife Area between March 1st and November 1st for Sea Turtle and Shorebird nesting. That created a window of less than 3 months for the contractor to construct the southern segment of the project and that caused the bids by two firms to come in so high. 3 other firms decided not to even bid on the project.
As a result, all bids for the project were rejected and the project was sent out for new bids based on a new timeline allowing companies more flexibility to complete the job. New bids are expected back by March.
This change also means the south end will no longer be first for the big renourishment, The bidding bump in the road will move the south end of the project to September. Assuming bids come in at budget the goal is now to start renourishing the beach on the north end and mid-island in June.
If the truck haul project begins around February 1st it should be completed by June.
If you live on the beach side and you want sand placed behind your home, you can still sign an easement by contacting the town.