Deadline extended by two weeks for companies planning to bid on Lido Renourishment Project

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues amendments to original solicitation package

A 2018 satellite photo shows Lido Key north of Siesta Key, with Big Pass separating the islands. Image from Google Earth

On June 27, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced that it was pushing back the deadline for bids on the Lido Beach Renourishment Project from July 2 to July 16, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.

Although no formal reason has been provided on the Federal Business Opportunities website for the delay, three sets of documents were added on June 27 under the heading of Amendment 3. Among the changes detailed in them is the statement that the contractor will be required to complete the project no later than 290 calendar days after receiving the notice to proceed. Previously, the timeline was 275 days.

Amendment 3 does contain the original language calling for the contractor to commence work within 75 calendar days of receiving the notice to proceed.

The document also points out, “The time stated for completion shall include final cleanup of the premises.”

Further, the contractor will have 90 calendar days “for grass re-establishment” on Lido Key Beach.

Yet, a new clause in one of the Amendment 3 documents notes, “The time for completion does not include establishment of dune vegetation impacted by construction.”

This graphic in the 2018 USACE Environmental Assessment for the Lido project shows the plans for two groins on South Lido Beach. Image courtesy USACE

Along with placing 950,000 cubic yards of new sand on South Lido, the USACE project entails the construction of two groins to try to hold sand in place between subsequent renourishment initiatives.

The USACE proposes to remove up to 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from three borrow areas — or “cuts” — in Big Sarasota Pass. Information provided to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) indicated the USACE anticipates the loss of a certain amount of sand between dredging and transport to Lido Key.

The original bid package does point out, “Any fill sand which is lost in transit or permitted to flow into the offshore waters or onto the upland [areas] from the point the sand is discharged on the beach will not be subject to payment.”

The bid package also specifies that the excavation and transport of sand, and the placement of the sand on Lido Beach, “shall be performed in a manner that will minimize turbidity. The Contractor shall meet the requirements to maintain the quality of the State’s waters as stipulated in [another section of the bid package].”

Turbidity — or cloudiness — in the water can hinder seagrasses, for example from receiving sufficient sunlight to thrive.

This revised engineering drawing for beach fill area on South Lido is part of the Amendment 3 additions to the USACE bid package. Image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

A second item in the bid package says that if the contractor fails to complete the work within the specified time, the contractor will pay $3,176 in damages to the government “for each calendar day of delay for construction until the work is completed or accepted …” A line added to that section as part of Amendment 3 calls for the contractor to pay the government $794 “for each calendar day of delay for establishment of dune planting until the establishment has been completed or accepted.”

A further addition in an Amendment 3 document says the federal government will pay the contractor “for costs associated with or incidental to separation of any trash, debris, or other unacceptable material [encountered during the dredging]. … Separation of trash, debris, and other unacceptable material will be measured for payment by the volume of material screened.”

Another section of that amendment explains, “There is the potential for encountering buried debris in the borrow area.”

The original bid package, issued on May 16, puts the estimated cost of construction between $10 million and $25 million. The primary document in that package indicates the government plans to award the bid at least 60 days after the July 2 deadline for responses.

However, litigation in both the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Sarasota and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Tampa, seeks to prevent any removal of sand from Big Pass.

The City of Sarasota was the co-applicant with the USACE for the necessary Joint Coastal Permit from FDEP to undertake the project. The state issued the permit in June 2018.

Order of dredging

As the News Leader has reported, the USACE removed the easternmost portion of Borrow Area C from the dredging plans for the project when it issued the original bid package.

This is a detailed engineering drawing of Borrow Area B in the USACE bid package. Image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Among the documents is a section providing details about the order in which the dredging must be performed. That order is as follows: Borrow Area C, Borrow Area D1, Borrow Area B1, Borrow Area B2 and Borrow Area D2.

The document does emphasize, “Borrow Area ‘B’ has a dredging time restriction,” and then refers companies to another section of the project details. That section notes that dredging is prohibited in Borrow Area B from April through September. That is to protect the spotted seatrout, as explained in the FDEP permit.

Expert testimony during a December 2017 Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) proceeding made clear that the spotted seatrout spawns in that area of Big Pass each year.

The DOAH proceeding was conducted after two Siesta Key-based nonprofits — the Siesta Key Association (SKA) and Save Our Siesta Sand 2 (SOSS2) — challenged the USACE and City of Sarasota plans for the project over concerns that the USACE had not undertaken sufficient modeling of the proposed project. The nonprofits have asserted that an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement is necessary to ensure no harm will come to Big Pass or Siesta Key as a result of the Lido Key initiative. The USACE has remained steadfast in asserting that its studies show damage will not result to the barrier island or the channel as a result of the project. (See the related article in this issue.)

This is a detailed engineering drawing of Borrow Area D in Big Pass. Image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Environmental Protection section of the bid package also explains, “No groin construction is authorized during the main part of the sea turtle nesting season (May 1 through October 3), and no groin construction equipment may be placed and/or stored on the beach.”

That section adds, “From November 11 through April 30, groin construction activities may take place during daylight and nighttime hours. If construction occurs between November 1 and November 11 or from April 15 to April 30, construction will only be authorized during daylight hours to avoid encountering nesting females and emerging hatchling sea turtles.”

Another part of the bid package explains that the contractor will be required to undertake the dredging “in such manner as to obstruct navigation as little as possible,” and in the event the contractor’s equipment does make it difficult for vessels to use the pass, or it endangers vessels, the equipment “shall be promptly moved on the approach of any vessel to such an extent as may be necessary to afford a practicable passage.”

Upon completion of the sand removal, the document adds, the contractor is to promptly remove all equipment, including buoys.

The bid package also acknowledges that Big Pass never has been dredged.