ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Golfers know to avoid the sand. But in St. Lucie County, there's a new "sand trap" project underway designed to keep the county's beaches wide in the future, while narrowing the cost.
Every year, Mother Nature uses the Atlantic Ocean to carve her way across the south end of Jetty Park. Some winters, there would be bulldozers here laying down new sand.
But this winter, it’s a barge, not a bulldozer, doing the work.
Inside the Fort Pierce inlet, this is the beginning of a "sand trap" project. This excavated material will be sent offshore to a dredge disposal area.
"Once it’s cleaned out and the basin is completed, we’re hoping to capture that good quality sand that makes its way past the north jetty and that sand will be used in our future beach renourishment program," said Joshua Revord, a St. Lucie County coastal engineer.
Revord explains that on Florida’s East Coast, sand naturally travels south so the jetties that were built a century ago disrupt that flow.
“If we capture the sand here, it doesn’t find its way into the ICW and have to be dredged out later as maintenance," Revord said.
Another goal is to make future beach renourishment projects more affordable. Revord said it could cost three times as much to truck in sand from inland properties.
At a cost of $4.3 million, this sand trap will be 200 feet wide, 800 feet long, and 32 feet deep. It should hold 60,000 cubic yards, the right amount for an emergency beach renourishment.
Revord said he’s often asked why so many tax dollars are spent at the coast. He said it’s a way to make sure beaches stay healthy all the way down the barrier island.
"If there was no inlets in Florida, there would be no erosion. But we want to keep the inlets open. We want to be able to recreate between the inlets and the ocean," Revord said.
This project should be completed by March 1.