If ever there was a project that needed a break it was the effort to restore beaches along St. Joseph Peninsula.
Going on five years since the county started down the path to restoration of eroding peninsula beaches, that break has finally arrived in the form of good weather and a quick-working efficient contractor.
Both have mixed in such a way that a timeline for completing the beach restoration project by the end of October could end being wildly conservative.
Work crews that began moving sand just over two weeks ago have made short work of the environmentally-sensitive area around the Stump Hole rock revetment at the southern-most point of the project.
The sand is up to the smallest rocks at the revetment, spanning to the water.
“The project is going amazing,” said Warren Yeager, assistant county administrator and shepherd of the restoration project along St. Joseph Peninsula for some five years.
“They have already finished around the Stump Hole. I was out there this (Monday) morning and there were people out there fishing, already using it.”
The $10.2 million project will now steer to the north, from Sunrise/Sunset, to the southern boundary of Billy Joe Rish State Park, roughly, geographically, near Scallop Cove.
And originally scheduled to last 45-60 days, Yeager noted that the work is moving ahead of schedule.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they are finished on the peninsula by the end of October,” Yeager said. “At that point, they will move up to Eagle Harbor in (T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park) and fill that breach.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection kicked in an additional $2 million to fill what has become known as “Michael’s Cut.”
The road to the project has been long, including initial bids that were over budget, two voting rounds to secure South Gulf County voter approval (through property taxes) and months of delay in receiving the county’s first installment of RESTORE Act funds.
In addition to the RESTORE money and local taxes, the FDEP, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Gulf County Tourist Development Council are contributing funds to the project.