Cranes, construction equipment could be on Cortez Beach until fall

The cranes and other construction equipment will be sticking around Cortez Beach for a bit longer as the work on the new groins continues.

While the work on the southernmost groin is expected to be completed in the next week or so, all work should be completed by the fall, according to Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County’s parks and natural resources director.

Work on the new groins at Cortez Beach began last spring and has been delayed several times, causing the completion date to be pushed back. In May, Hunsicker had estimated the completion day to be July 2.

“In the intervening weeks of June, we continued to find unstable subsurface conditions in setting our foundation pilings for the remaining groin and due to the difficuly in obtaining the solid support necessary we had to extend the construction time frame to complete the southern groin past the July 4 holiday weekend,” Hunsicker said Thursday. “The geology below the sandy bottom of the Gulf in this location has turned out to be a very complex layering of rock interspaced with layers of sand and all of our pilings have to be anchored into rock that will support the weight of the piling and the pier.”

Groins are pier-like structures that jut out into the Gulf of Mexico to help hold beach sand in place. The three groins being replaced are along Gulf Drive South at Sixth Street South, 10th Street South and just south of 13th Street South.

While work is still happening the northern and southernmost groins, crews will be returning to the middle groin to “ensure that the foundation pilings that settled are more properly anchored to prevent further settling,” Hunsicker said.

“The cause of that was tropical storm forces on that particular section exposed a weakness in the footing embedment,” he said, adding that the final adjustments to the middle groin may last through August.

The contractor, Cayo LLC of Fort Worth, Texas, is completing the initially $5 million project. Half of the funding, $2.5 million, is coming from the state and the local share is from the beach renourishment fund, according to Hunsicker. There will be an additional cost associated with the extended completion schedule but the cost, which will be paid for with beach renourishment funds, is unknown as of Thursday, Hunsicker said.

“There are additional costs involved in working through the uncertain geology and additional time necessary for completing the project to our satisfaction,” he said. “We are negotiating those additional costs right now with the contractor because there will be additional costs.”

Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson