Nags Head to begin beach renourishment project

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, April 30, 2019

In preparation for the 2019 Nags Head beach renourishment project, equipment has been staged at several points around town.

“We will be nourishing essentially the same area we did back in 2011,” said Nags Head public information officer Roberta Thuman. “From the Bonnett Street public beach access at 2919 South Virginia Dare Trail down to the south end of town to the town line with the National Park Service near Mile Post 21.”

Thuman said once everything is in place, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, the town’s dredging contractor for the project, could start adding sand to the 10 miles of beach as early as May 1.

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Great Lakes is the same contractor that Nags Head used in 2011. It is also the same contractor that worked on the Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores and Duck beaches in 2017.

Coastal Science and Engineering is the town’s beach nourishment engineering firm.

A submerged pipe sub-line is already in place near Pelican Street, where the Ellis Island, one of two dredges, will start working. Generally, a hopper dredge draws sand into a large hold and carry it to the submerged pipe. Sand is then pumped onto the shore through the submerged pipe, where bulldozers smooth it out and grade it according to a pre-determined pattern.

After starting in the milepost 20 area, the vessel will then move north.

A second hopper dredge, the Liberty Island, is scheduled to begin work later in May at another submerged sub-line at the north end of town, between Conch Street and Hollowell Street around milepost 11.5, and work its way south.

The plan of action calls for the two to meet someplace in the middle.

Because beach nourishment projects are designed to take advantage of natural forces, about two-thirds of the sand from offshore will be used to create a more stable beach shape, which is more effective in breaker larger waves offshore.

Thuman said this is the first time the Ellis Island has been used here, adding that it is faster than the 2011 dredges.

The project is expected to take between 90 and 120 days. In 2011, work started May 24 with work completed in mid-October with 4.6 million cubic yards of sand added to cover the 10 miles of beach.

This project, with four million cubic yards of sand, is almost as big an undertaking.

Originally scheduled for the 2018 summer, it had to be delayed when the bids came in much higher than expected. The delay, however, may have proved to benefit Nags Head.

“This project,” explained Thuman, “is a combination of the town’s regular re-nourishment and the replacement of sand lost during Hurricane Matthew.”

Using a combination of state and public disaster money, North Carolina will be contributing 25 percent of the cost and to replace sand lost during Matthew, with FEMA pitching in the remaining 75 percent. The remainder of the $43 million project costs are covered through a special tax district with additional money collected from a town-wide tax rate.

Nags Head was able to determine how much sand was lost during Matthew through surveys taken prior to and after the storm.

Thuman said project updates will be available at, with links to sign up for beach nourishment updates, or by calling during normal business hours at 252-449-2022.