SECTION 933 - MOREHEAD CITY HARBOR

Fact Sheet: Phase I (2004)

Fact Sheet: Phase II (2007)

The municipalities of Bogue Banks, Carteret County, the State or North Carolina, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are collectively participating in dredging, beach nourishment, and sand management effort called the Section 933 Project. The Project is actually a component of the Morehead City Harbor Federal Navigation Project that is maintained (dredged) by the Corps on behalf of the North Carolina State Ports Authority. The estimated construction time period is January - March 2004 and January – March 2007 to accommodate the proposed project phases. 

So where are the sources of sand? What area does the project encompass? How much does the project cost? Who is paying for the project? What relation does access and parking have to the Project? These are some of the items that are to be addressed in this “Question and Answer” formatted webpage.


WHAT IS THE SECTION 933 PROJECT?
The Morehead City Federal Navigation Project is constructed and maintained in accordance with the Federally-mandated least cost standard and is essentially divided into five regions depicted in the figure below. Historically, the Cutoff and Range A, collectively known as the outer harbor, have been maintained annually by hopper dredging that collects sediment from the base of the channel and travels to one of two offshore areas located 1 to approximately 2.5 miles offshore to dispose the dredged material.

View Graphic: Morehead City Federal Navigation Project

View Graphic: Outer Harbor

If a local sponsor is interested in paying for the additional costs of transporting and placing sediment on the beach rather than dumping the material in least cost offshore disposal sites, then a cost share program can be implemented under the Corps Section 933 Authority. The incremental expenditures associated with this effort that is planned to place sand along the shorelines of Pine Knoll Shores (PKS) and Indian Beach (IB) are cost shared utilizing a 65% Federal - 35% non-Federal ratio. Historically the State has funded 75% of the non-Federal share of such projects and the Section 933 Project includes this same level of funding.

The Corps' Base Disposal Plan is a moniker for routine annual maintenance dredging of the outer harbor that includes offshore disposal. The Section 933 Project is simply the term for the cost-sharing effort to place material dredged from the outer harbor on the beaches of PKS and IB (including Salter Path). Because the volume of material available for beach nourishment for any given year is directly linked to the volume of shoal material residing in the channel at the time of dredging maintenance, the Section 933 project has been divided into two phases that corresponds to two maintenance cycles at the harbor. This should ensure there is an adequate amount of sand to stretch along the shorelines of PKS and IB.

Phase I of the Section 933 effort was completed in 2004 and as briefly summarized above, utilized dredged shoal material obtained by hopper dredges from the outer harbor for beach nourishment along the shorelines of IB and the westernmost 2,200 feet of PKS (see figure). For 2007, it is envisioned that Phase II of the Section 933 Project will encompass the remaining portion of PKS.

It is also worth mentioning that material from Range B, C, and the turning basin, known as the inner harbor, is removed semi-annually utilizing a cutterhead-suction dredge that essentially excavates sediment from the base of the channel and transports the sediment via a buoyed pipeline in a direct, continuous motion. This material is “direct piped” to Brandt Island, an upland disposal site located north of Fort Macon State Park. Every 8-10 years, the cumulative volume of sediment stored in Brandt Island must be removed to provide accommodation space for new dredged material from the inner harbor. The least cost standard to evacuate the material stored in Brandt Island is to pump this material to the beaches of Atlantic Beach (AB) and Fort Macon. The procedure that includes the final removal of material from Brandt Island is commonly referred to as a “pump-out”. Because this represents the least cost option for the Corps, no cost are incurred by the municipalities, County, or State to nourish the beaches of AB and Fort Macon as a result of this process.

Three pump-outs have occurred in 1986, 1994, and 2005 with two separate, smaller-scale direct pipe projects that have nourished Fort Macon (1978 and 2002). The geographic extents for each of these beach nourishment events is depicted below (see link for more information regarding “pump-outs”).

View Graphic: USACE Beach Disposal Extent Map

I OFTEN SEE THE TERM “CUBIC YARDS” WHEN DESCRIBING A BEACH NOURISHMENT PROJECT. WHAT EXACTLY IS A CUBIC YARD AND HOW DO I GET A MENTAL PICTURE OF THE VOLUME OF SAND THAT WILL BE USED FOR THE PROJECT?
A cubic yard as the name implies, is 3 foot x 3 foot x 3 foot block of material. Coastal engineers will often design a certain amount of cubic yards for each linear foot in a nourishment project to achieve a desired beach template. In some instances, a different amount of cubic yards may be needed along the beach to achieve the same uniform height, slope, and beach width throughout the project. For instance, it may take 65 cubic yards per linear foot to expand the beach seaward by 110 feet in let’s say PKS compared to 50 cubic yards per linear foot to achieve the same beach width in IB. It is estimated that a total of 1.6 million cubic yards will be placed on the beach as a result of the Section 933 Project. That’s enough sand to fill well over 106,000 dump trucks!!! Or envisioned in a different manner, that’s enough sand to bury a regulation basketball court (95 foot x 50 foot) with over 9,000 feet of sand!!

WHAT IS THE VOLUME OF SAND THAT IS INVOLVED WITH THE PROJECT AND HOW WILL THIS SAND BE DISTRIBUTED ALONG THE BEACH?
As mentioned above, it is anticipated that a total of 1.6 million cubic yards will be utilized for Phases I and II of the Section 933 Project. Approximately 700,000 cubic yards (cy) was placed along 2.95 miles of beach in IB and PKS in 2004, and 900,000 cy is anticipated to be placed along PKS in 2007 (estimated length is 4.0 miles).

After evaluating a series of alternatives in 2002, and again in 2003, 2004, and 2005, a locally-preferred plan has been selected to best meet the needs of the Bogue Banks communities. Although the County is technically the non-federal sponsor, PKS and IB have assumed all terms of local agreement for the Project including funding, easement acquisition, access/parking, etc. The locally-preferred plan is presented below.

View Graphic: Locally Preferred Plan

One of the primary reasons the locally-preferred plan was developed relates to a desired, “uniform berm” design template that is to be applied over the entire Project area. The uniform berm design consists of the construction of a sand berm at an elevation of approximately 7 feet above sea level and a seaward extension at a 1 vertical to 25 horizontal slope. The volume of sand required to achieve this template varies across the Project area based on the existing condition of the beach. This concept is depicted below.

View Graphic: Construction Specifications - "uniform berm"

A considerable amount of coastal engineering is utilized to develop these berm template designs and accounts for a certain volume of material to be transported offshore, the re-establishment of an offshore sand bar, and other equilibration aspects. During construction, the berm is extended by over 100 feet and is expected to equilibrate to the berm design (see schematic below). Thus, although each community is receiving a different quantity of sand, the added beach width and storm protection seaward of the primary dune should be the same from the Atlantic Beach/PKS to the IB/Emerald Isle town boundary, i.e., different volumes of sand are required to achieve a uniform height and slope throughout the entire project area seaward of the frontal dune. There is no dune construction planned for the Project.

View Graphic: Berm Equilibration

In determining the sediment volume required to achieve a uniform design template, the Corps subdivided the entire project areas into reaches. There are actually 70 stations positioned along the beach in increasing numerical order westward from Beaufort Inlet to the IB/Emerald Isle town boundary. The stations are spaced approximately 1,000 feet apart from one another and each of these intervals represents a reach, thus there are approximately 38 reaches (approximately 38,000 feet of linear feet total) that encompass the Section 933 Project area, which the Corps based the project design upon. In this manner, the Corps can develop design alternatives and establish a price per reach cost based on the sediment volume required for each reach.

I’VE SEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSION REGARDING SAND QUALITY IN THE PAST FEW YEARS. WHAT TYPE OF QUALITY CAN I EXPECT WITH THIS PROJECT?
You have probably formulated your opinion already concerning the sand quality for the Section 933 Project unless you are a first-time visitor to Bogue Banks. IB, Salter Path and the western tip of PKS was nourished in 2004 with the same material that is scheduled to be utilized in 2007. So if you have visited IB or Salter Path in the past couple of years, then you probably have an excellent grasp of what the great quality of sand will be used for the second phase of the Section 933 Project in PKS. This also makes intuitive sense, because for the most part, the shoal material that enters the navigation channel is sand that has traveled from adjacent beaches. Phase I of the Section 933 Project was honored by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association as one of their Top Restored Beaches in 2004. While the justification for this honor is multi-tiered, one of the major rationalizations for the award was sand quality.

WILL THE CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT, NOISE, AND BEACH NOURISHMENT PROCESS IN GENERAL CAUSE ANY MAJOR DISRUPTIONS DURING OUR VISIT TO THE BEACH?
Likely not. The bulk of the bulldozers, lights, surveying equipment, etc. will be confined to the narrow area where the slurry of sand is being pumped directly on to the beach. Subsequent to completing a cut at the channel and filling the hopper, the dredges will travel and discharge sand to a buoyed pipeline located offshore that extends to the pre-construction dry beach. A secondary “Y-valve” discharge pipe is used to transport material in one direction (east or west), then the other to complete ~1-2 mile sections. Dredged sand is subsequently bulldozed into general construction specifications for subsequent grading into final contours, tilled, and opened for recreational use. Thus, any disruption at your favorite beach access will only be for a day or two. Beach nourishment is a “24-7” operation (24 hours a day - seven days a week), so progress should be quick. Actually, many visitors and residents alike find the combination of grading equipment, the slurry of sand, and the magnitude of operations as “neat”.

WHY IS THE TERM “SAND MANAGEMENT” ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PROJECT?
The sources of beach sand along the N.C. Coast is limited and is derived from eroding beaches, inlets, and the capes. Although waterway dredging is a critical component of our infrastructure, the diversion of beach-quality sand from the inlet/beach system essentially prohibits this precious resource from reaching adjacent beaches. The Section 933 Project permits all forms of Government to come together and start viewing sand as the resource we all enjoy - not as a by-product, or “spoil”, which has historically been the case. Implementing sand management measures, such as the Section 933 Project, helps preserve and enhance recreational opportunities, critical beach habitat, and the economic vitality that is associated with healthy beaches.

HOW DO I ACCESS THE BEACHES THAT ENCOMPASS THE PROJECT AREA AND BOGUE BANKS IN GENERAL?
One of the requirements associated with Federal participation in beach nourishment is that access and parking to the beaches shall be provided to everyone on fair and equal terms. The Corps regulations and guidance concerning this issue stipulate that an access shall be located every half mile with adequate parking associated with each access. In general, adequate parking has been designated as ten spaces located within a quarter mile of each access. The communities of Pine Knoll Shores and Indian Beach/Salter Path are responsible for adhering to these regulations because the Section 933 Project is a Federal/non-Federal cost-sharing program. If these requirements are not met, the local sponsor must finance 100% of the costs to restore the beach in each area that a deficiency exists.

While the Corps regulations do not account for issues such as the quality of the access (bathroom facilities, handicap ramps, etc.), or the number of parking spaces above the 10 that is required for each access, the local communities have made terrific progress in meeting the access and parking requirements. IB constructed three additional access/parking facilities as part of the Section 933 Phase I effort completed in 2004. From east to west these areas include; (1) The Sea Isle Plantation west access with parking located north of Hwy 58, (2) A walkway located between the Ocean Club and Salter Path Campground with parking located north of Hwy 58, and (3) An access/parking area located immediately east of the Baptist Children’s Home oceanfront gazebo. These new areas are in addition to the Trinity Center, Roosevelt State Park, and IB access/parking facilities that are all located within the Phase I Project beach. PKS is in the process of negotiating and designing new areas of parking and access at the time this webpage was prepared. Please visit the public access link for a comprehensive view of all access and parking areas located along Bogue Banks.

WHAT ARE THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE ENTIRE SECTION 933 EFFORT?
Before answering this question, it is important to remember that; (1) There are two different phases of the Section 933 Project; Phase I was completed in 2004 and Phase II planned for 2007, (2) The Federal government funds 100% of all Base Disposal Plan costs and 65% of the incremental cost required to place sand along the beach in regions other than the Base Disposal Plan Area, and (3) The State provides 75% of the non-Federal share of the Section 933 effort, or 26.25% of the total Section 933 cost. The two Fact Sheets above summarize all costs associated with both phases of the Project, including study costs.