Magnificent Makeover

by Mar 17, 2022Current, South Brunswick

The OIB strand is even more beautiful after the most recent beach management project.

Ocean Isle Beach, “The gem of the Brunswick Islands,” received a glorious facelift over the past few months, leaving her with a wider beach and a new 750-foot rock terminal groin to protect it. With the work nearing completion, only one of the town’s three scheduled beach management plan projects remains.

Hurricane Hugo devastated OIB’s beach strand in 1989, and Congress came to the rescue with restoration funds. The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association gave OIB its best restored beach award in 2008. Since then, an onslaught of storms ravaged the 5.5-mile beachfront, eroding the strand and its protective dunes. The town’s commissioners approved a 30-year beach management plan in 2015, which foresaw the projects that are under way now.

OIB Renourishment Project

OIB spokesperson Mayor Debbie Smith says the town expects to conclude the east end project by April 30, 2022. The only work remaining is for the Coastal Design and Construction Co. to complete the installation of a sheet pile wall and concrete cap on the groin.

From a dredge in Shallotte Inlet, Norfolk Dredging Co. began work in November 2021, dredging, transporting and placing beach fill 300 feet west of the terminal groin.

They pumped 450,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet, Smith says, shaping the strand from Shallotte Boulevard to Goldsboro Street. Several of the residences protected only by sandbags are now as far as 230 yards from the lapping waves. Where it was almost impossible to walk at high tide, beachgoers are already resting on blankets and beach chairs.

Ocean Isle Beach Renourishment Project

Cost for the dredging and beach sand component of the plan is about $8.7 million, of which 65% is funded by the federal government. The State of North Carolina and OIB split the other 35%. The town is funding the terminal groin project at a cost of $11 million.

The mayor says she anticipates the strand will need renourishing every six to seven years, maybe longer depending on storms. The third and final leg of the project, the west end nourishment, is not scheduled at this time.

A little back history: Mayor Smith says the town was part of a county effort to obtain a 50-year plan with the Army Corps of Engineers as early as 1964. When Hugo intervened, OIB went on its own and enacted an accommodation tax to fund more immediate needs and had enough funds for its first storm reduction project in 2001. The local plan called for replenishment every three years, but it sometimes went longer due to lack of need or funds. The mayor says OIB worked 15 years on the terminal groin project. “We were successful in having the law about use of groins changed in 2013,” she says. “With planning, permitting and lawsuit challenges it has finally become a reality.”

Dredging Ocean Isle Beach Renourishment

In addition to the beach projects, OIB is also repaving the road on First Street and adding bicycle lanes there. And work continues making the guard rails taller on the Odell Williamson Bridge for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. The plan is to have these projects completed before the official start of the vacation season on Memorial Day.

Another victim of Hurricane Isaias, which made landfall atop OIB in 2020, was the destruction of the Intracoastal Waterway fishing pier at Ferry Landing Park. OIB has been waiting for FEMA funding for almost two years to rebuild it. Mayor Smith says the town is still “in limbo.

“However, we plan to clean the area up so people can use the gazebo, launch kayaks and fish from the shore by summer,” she adds.