U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to push back deadline for bids to be submitted for Lido Beach Renourishment Project

New amendment would allow contractor to remove sand recently placed in front of Lido Pavilion and use it temporarily to cover up old groin, to facilitate equipment movement

(This article was updated on the afternoon of July 19 to provide more current information in regard to the placement of sand and construction of groins on Lido Key Beach during sea turtle nesting season.)

A woman walks along the sandbar in Big Pass, just north of Siesta Key, in July 2017. File photo

Three times since June 27, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has pushed back the deadline for bids to be submitted for its proposed Lido Key Beach Renourishment Project.

The new date is July 30, 14 days later than the timeline the USACE announced in late June.

The latest amendments to the solicitation package were issued on consecutive days this week — July 17 and July 18.

Responses to the bid package, which the federal agency published on May 16, originally were due on June 19. Notices subsequently updated the deadline to July 2, then July 16, then July 23 and then July 24 before the July 30 deadline was published in a July 18 amendment on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Each of the amendments makes clear that the USACE can take up to 60 days to award the contract to a bidder. The latest document also maintains wording from earlier versions in calling for the contractor to begin work within 75 calendar days of the award and to complete the project within 290 calendar days after receiving the formal Notice to Proceed.

Photo courtesy Sarasota County

One of the more recent amendments the USACE published for the solicitation package apparently attempts to resolve concerns that Sarasota County might not allow the USACE’s contractor to stage equipment in Ted Sperling Park on the southernmost point of Lido Key. The county owns the park.

One of the original bid documents says, “The Contractor is responsible for obtaining and coordinating staging areas … It shall be the responsibility of the Contractor to investigate and obtain any additional areas which may be necessary for his/her construction operations.”

The July 11 amendment to the bid package says, “[T]he Contractor may ‘scrape’ the existing beach” in front of the Lido Pavilion and Pool. That would be allowed, the package notes, if the contractor needs to cover the existing rock groin that extends offshore of the southern part of the renourishment area, so the contractor can transport equipment over the groin.

The amendment specifies, “Scraping shall be uniform throughout the area to avoid holes, ruts, etc. and not excavated below mean high water … The temporary sand ramp shall be of the Contractor’s own design,” the amendment continues, “and shall be constructed so as to ensure the existing rock groin is not damaged from equipment traversing over it. Any damage to the existing groin that occurs due to … equipment traversing it, shall be repaired at the Contractor’s expense.”

This engineering drawing issued by the USACE in a July 11 amendment shows the area in front of the Lido Pavilion and Pool from which a contractor would be allowed to remove sand on a temporary basis. Image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The amendment adds, “The scraped area shall be filled back to its approximate pre-scraped condition within 2 calendar days from the commencement of fill operations.”

In April, the City of Sarasota completed an emergency renourishment project on Lido Beach; part of the new sand covered the area in front of the pavilion and pool.

Approximately 205,000 cubic yards of sand was removed from New Pass for the emergency initiative, which involved slightly more than 1 mile of the beach.

City Manager Tom Barwin has pointed out that city leaders hope the emergency project will keep the shoreline stable until the long-term USACE project can begin. Barwin also has talked numerous times of the expectation that the USACE renourishment effort would begin this November.

The City of Sarasota was the co-applicant for the Joint Coastal Permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for the long-term project to be overseen by the USACE.

Changes related to turtle monitoring

The most recent amendment, issued on July 18, strikes a section of the original bid package regarding turtle monitoring. The first version said that if the placement of sand on Lido Beach or the groin construction has begun by April 15, turtle monitoring and nest location would have to start on the same date “and continue currently with the performance of the work.”

This engineering drawing in the original bid package shows the southern limit of the beach fill area on Lido Key. Ted Sperling Park is to the right of that boundary. Image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

However, the document continued, if the placement of sand “or groin construction has not commenced prior to April 15th, the Contractor shall commence turtle monitoring and nest location activities for a period of 65 days prior to performing any work (including movement of equipment) in the beach fill area or groin construction area … In such case, after turtle monitoring and nest location activities have been performed for a period of 65 days, the Contractor shall commence work in the beach fill area or groin construction area and continue the monitoring activities concurrently with performance of the work. In any case turtle monitoring and nest location/relocation activities are required through October 31 or until completion of the work on Florida Beaches, whichever is earlier.”

The amendment the USACE released on July 18 says, “The City of Sarasota will be conducting turtle monitoring and nest location/relocation activities from April 15, 2019 through October 31, 2019. If dredging and placement of material in the beach fill area continues through April 15, 2020, the Contractor shall commence turtle monitoring and nest location/relocation activities at this time. Turtle monitoring and nest location/relocation activities are required through October 31, 2020 or until completion of the work, whichever is earlier.”

The Biological Opinion the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued for the project on Dec. 29, 2016 said that because of concerns about how the construction of the two groins would affect sea turtles, the USFWS directed, “No construction is authorized during the main part of the sea turtle nesting season (May 1 through October 31).”

However, the FDEP permit for the project, issued in June 2018, says, “Sand placement activities and groin constriction may occur during the marine turtle nesting season (April 15 – October 31), except on publicly owned conservation lands such as state parks and areas where such work is prohibited by the managing agency or under applicable local land use codes …” Even then, the permit continues, the activity cannot proceed without prior “authorization of incidental take by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in accordance with Florida Statute 161.041 (5), 379.2431 (1).”

“Incidental take” refers to the killing of turtles.

The FDEP permit also specifies a number of steps the contractor would have to take to try to avoid harming sea turtles during nesting season. Yet, it does provide for the relocation of eggs found in the areas where sand is being placed on the beach or where the groins are being constructed. The permit lists requirements for the relocation of those eggs.

This is majority of the section of the FDEP permit for the project that specifies requirements for the relocation of turtle eggs in the project area. Image courtesy State of Florida

Further project details in the bid package

This graphic in the USACE’s Final Environmental Assessment, published in July 2018, shows the original plan for three groins on South Lido Key. The third, southernmost groin was eliminated from consideration several years ago. Image courtesy USACE

Along with adding an estimated 950,000 cubic yards of sand to South Lido Beach, the USACE plans to construct the two groins just north of Ted Sperling Park, to try to hold sand in place between subsequent renourishments planned to take place about every five years over the 15-year life of the FDEP permit.

A section of the original bid package says, “Groin construction can commence following completion of the beach fill” up to the southern boundary of the project. “If the Contractor does not commence groin construction during beach fill operations,” the package continues, “then groin construction shall commence immediately following completion of fill activities on the entire beach. The Contractor shall minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the time between beach fill completion and commencing groin construction …”

The solicitation also calls for the contractor to “be responsible for obtaining any necessary licenses and permits, and for complying with any Federal, State, and municipal laws, codes, and regulations applicable to the performance of the work.”

The USACE proposes to dredge up to 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from Big Sarasota Pass for the project. However, litigation continues in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court and in the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida, in Tampa, to try to prevent any removal of sand from Big Pass, which never has been dredged. (See the related articles in this issue.)