Hilton Head officials encouraged by south end groin success as they plan new structure

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Hilton Head officials encouraged by south end groin success as they plan new structure

By TOM BARTON
tbarton@islandpacket.com
843-706-8169
Published Monday, November 1, 2010   |  510 Words  |  

A groin built last spring to stabilize eroding beachfront at the south end of Hilton Head Island is working faster than town staff predicted.

That could bode well as the town turns its attention to the island's rapidly eroding heel.

Work is to begin this winter to pump about 1 million cubic yards of sand onto a one-mile stretch of beach at Port Royal Plantation. A groin also will be built to prevent sand from being washed away and to allow it to accrue along the shore.

The town will borrow against expected tax revenue from overnight lodging to pay for the $12.5 million project. Town officials say the work is needed to combat a decade of erosion that has claimed about 100 feet of beachfront a year. Left unchecked, the erosion could threaten oceanfront property, town officials said.

On the south end, the mound of granite boulders at the inlet to Braddock Cove near South Beach has moved the high-water line seaward almost 80 feet and stacked sand nearly four-feet high, said Scott Liggett, town director of public projects and facilities.

The new groin replaced an older one that fell into disrepair.

"It is working faster than we had predicted," Liggett said. "It is definitely performing well."

The $480,000 groin is trapping sand that normally would be lost to coastal drift, protecting the town's investment in new sand placed on the beach to combat erosion. The sand would have otherwise stacked up at the entrance to the inlet, Liggett said.

"The groin, so far, is maximizing the project performance," he said. "Without it, there's no reason to believe the sand we place there will last any longer than the native sediment that we've been losing at such high rates."

Material similar to that used in the South Beach groin will be used at Port Royal, which will be slightly larger and longer.

Liggett said engineers also will design the groin to allow some sand to move over its top so as not to starve other areas of the beach. The groin will be buried, so people won't have difficulty walking along the beach, Liggett said.

Town councilman and Sea Pines resident George Williams Jr. said he is pleased with the south end project.

"With the old groin, the major problem was it was letting sand fill in the entrance to Braddock Cove, creating a huge impediment to all the boats getting in and out of there," Williams said. "One of the key benefits of this groin has been clearing that entrance and helping with navigation of the channel."

Additionally, areas of beach that were once almost completely eroded have rebounded, he said.

"It's one of the better projects we've done in stabilizing the beach," Williams said. "It shows that it was well-engineered and well-conceived. It gives me confidence that when we begin the project (at Port Royal) that it will be beneficial as well."