By Gaige Davila
The sands of time were on Cameron County’s side this past week, after finishing a beach renourishment project at Isla Blanca Park in around a week.
Starting last Monday, June 21, 90,000 cubic yards of sand have been laid along the shoreline of Isla Blanca Park, starting near the pavilions and going south towards the Jetties, adding between 150 to 200 feet of sand to the beach. The project was finished on June 27.
“Sand is like gold to us,” Cameron County Parks & Recreation Director Joe Vega told the PRESS in his South Padre Island office. “Having a wider beach protects it from erosion, it protects our infrastructures from storms and the new public beach access amenities.”
The sand was pulled from the bottom of the Brownsville Ship Channel via a hopper dredger ship, transported through the Brazos Santiago pass and fed through another boat positioned several hundred yards away from the beach. The sand is funnelled through long pipes onto the beach, where it’s paved down with bulldozers.
The sand comes out dark but will get lighter as it’s exposed to sunlight, Vega said. Right now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inspecting the finished project.
The project is a joint effort between the Texas General Land Office (GLO), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cameron County and the City of South Padre Island, which is placing 270,000 cubic yards of sand to the northern edges of South Padre Island’s beaches. The hope, Vega said, is that sand placed in Isla Blanca Park will make its way north, filling and balancing the shorelines throughout South Padre Island’s beaches.
Altogether, the project cost between $7-$10 million, paid for by Cameron County, South Padre Island and the GLO.
During the renourishment project, beachgoers could pitch umbrellas on the shore in front of the pipes, using a ramp positioned over the pipes to access the beach.
Beaches along South Padre Island were eroded severely from last year’s tides caused by hurricanes and Winter Storm Uri this past February. The last time Cameron County received sand for beach renourishment was in 2021, Vega said.
“Hopefully there will still be sand available for future projects so we could continue restoring the rest of our beach.”
Crews will wait until after the 4th of July weekend to remove remaining equipment and pipes, which are placed against the dunes away from the shore, from the beach.
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