Companies want to use trucks to haul sand to renourish Collier beaches

David Albers/Staff
An excavator spreads sand onto South Marco Beach as part of a beach renourishment and erosion control project on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, on Marco Island.

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David Albers/Staff An excavator spreads sand onto South Marco Beach as part of a beach renourishment and erosion control project on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, on Marco Island.

Rumblings of concern about running dump trucks through coastal neighborhoods to haul sand to Collier County’s beaches rather than dredging it from offshore got a bit louder Monday.

County officials received bids for a major beach widening project planned to begin later this year, and all three bids came from truck haulers who said they likely would use sand from an Immokalee mine.

One dredging contractor, the same company that did the county’s last beach widening project in 2006, submitted a letter explaining that it wasn’t bidding on this project because of complexities in the bid documents.

The bid opening sets up a potential decision by county commissioners to rebid the project differently to satisfy dredging companies or to accept one of the truck haul bids in the face of a potential uproar from residents whose streets would become routes for thousands of sand-delivery trucks heading to beaches in Naples, Park Shore and Vanderbilt Beach.

“I certainly hope they have better judgment than that,” Naples Mayor John Sorey said Monday of county officials. “Truck haul is not an acceptable option.”

Haulers said their trucks would hold 18 cubic yards of sand, which would mean anywhere from 36,000 to 46,000 round trips to and from the beaches, based on the range of project sizes being debated.

Not only would a truck haul clog Naples’ network of residential roads, it also would require equipment moving sand for long distances on the beach just as tourist season is getting revved up this coming winter, Sorey said.

Gulf Shore Property Owners Association President Hans Gruenberg said his group’s 36 condominium association members between the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club and Doctors Pass have “major concerns.”

“It’s a disaster,” he said. “I can’t imagine that during the height of tourist season. I think it would be a tremendous burden.”

On Vanderbilt Beach, at least one civic leader said disruptions just come with the territory when it comes to beach renourishment — whether it’s by dredge or truck haul.

“For my neighborhood, it’s a necessary evil,” said Vanderbilt Beach Residents Association secretary and spokeswoman Kathy Robbins.

She said she was more concerned that no dredging companies bid on the Collier County beach job and said the county staff should rebid the work.

“That’s disturbing to me that we’ve got a lopsided bid,” Robbins said.

As county commissioners debated how large the beach project should be, the bid documents that were offered to companies split the job into increments of sand volumes and asked bidders to provide a price per cubic yard of sand for each increment.

For the 2006 beach project, bidders knew the size of the job and where the sand would go, details that dredging companies say they need to calculate their bids, according to the letter from Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co.

Even among the bids received Monday, purchasing agents said they needed more time to analyze them before declaring a low bidder. That could happen by mid-May, county officials said.

Bidders were Ranger Construction Industries in Winter Garden in Central Florida, Eastman Aggregates in Lake Wales in Central Florida and Lanzo Construction in Deerfield Beach on Florida’s east coast.

County purchasing agent Scott Johnson said later Monday that a closer review found a “wide array of problems” with the way companies bid the job.

Coastal projects manager Gary McAlpin, a county government official, hinted that the bids might have to be thrown out and the county would start from scratch.

“You don’t know if we have a legitimate competitive bid,” he said.

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