NORRIEGO NOW! City approves funding for phase one of point stabilization

Matt Algarin
The area inside the red markings, behind the faulty t-groin, will be filled with sand as part of the phase one stabilization project. The line perpendicular to Norriego Point represents the sheet pile wall.

With a problematic t-groin continuing to cause shoaling along the tip of Norriego Point, city leaders are set to install a sheet pile wall as corrective action.

"We feel this is urgent; this is eroding at a rapid pace,” City Engineer David Campbell said.

During a recent City Council meeting, city leaders agreed to spend $43,600 to enter into an agreement with Taylor Engineering for professional services relating to phase one of the Norriego Point stabilization project.

Services will include permitting assistance, final phase one design and bid administration.

Looking at the point, the embayment area closest to the tip features a "t-shaped" structure that has failed, causing sand to accumulate at the tip of the point. Both waves and tidal action have pushed this sand into the mouth of the harbor, wreaking havoc for boats trying to navigate the channel.

The situation is pretty dire, Councilman Cyron Marler told his colleagues.

"Something has to get done right now, right this minute," he said.

As part of this project, the city is expected to use approximately 5,000 cubic yards of sand, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard's dredge project in the federal navigation channel sometime this spring. The sand will be used to stabilize the shoreline behind the t-groin area.

Between the dredge project, the fortification of the shoreline, and the installation of roughly 200-linear feet of sheet piling, phase one of the stabilization project should reduce the amount of erosion along the tip of the point, as well as reduce the rate that sand migrates into the Old Pass Lagoon channel.

"This is merely phase one of the ultimate plan," Campbell said.

But not everyone was buying into the plan.

Councilman Jim Bagby was not pleased with the idea of a sheet pile wall being driven into the point, as he preferred the use of rocks.

"You are leading us away from the plan that the majority of the council supported, which is the rock plan," he said. "Nobody liked the sheet piles the last time we discussed this."

Although plans call for the sheet pile to be used in this instance, the city currently has two options permitted for the stabilization project, one is a combination of sheet pile and rock, and the other is a rock-heavy design.

"To come in here right now and put in either a temporary wall... or place stone, which right now might be cost prohibitive in this area," Campbell said, "we thought we've come up with the best option."

The funding was approved by a 6-0 vote, as Councilwoman Sandy Trammell abstained from the vote since her son works for Taylor Engineering.

The city currently has sand stored on an adjacent property and will use about 8,000 cubic yards of sand for this project, which more than likely will not begin until the Coast Guard dredging takes place.