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Ahtna Kanas Summer 2023

Ahtna Marine & Construction Company Begins Construction on Siesta Key Project in Florida

On April 24, 2023, Ahtna Marine & Construction Company (AMCC) commenced construction on the $8.3M South Siesta Key Project for Sarasota County along the west coast of Florida. The project was designed to conduct the necessary repairs from the erosion sustained at Turtle Beach as a result of the passing of Hurricane Hermine in 2016. Sarasota County secured funding for this project through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Florida Department of Emergency Management.

For Sarasota County to obtain the grant funding from FEMA, the project had to move at a rapid pace and be completed prior to the end of June 2023. The notice to proceed for this project was issued on April 21, 2023, and the contract duration was only 60 days, requiring the AMCC crew to work at an efficient pace. The AMCC crew worked long hours and weekends and completed the project safely, professionally, and ahead of schedule.

The South Siesta Key Project was designed as a truck haul project, obtaining beach quality sand from an approved sand mine located approximately 120 miles from the project site. The truck-hauled material was placed into a large sand stockpile at the landward-most edge of the beach. Material was then removed from the stockpile by excavators and placed into dump trucks that continuously ran up and down the beach, placing the material along the shoreline. Over the period of performance, the project averaged over 180 truck trips and 3,200 cubic yards of sand placement, totaling 93,0000 cubic yards upon completion on
June 15, 2023.

The project presented many challenges prior to even arriving on the site, including additional shoreline impacts from the passing of Hurricane Ian in 2022 which further exacerbated the already deteriorated beach. AMCC was forced to revise the proposed means and methods of placing sand on the beach.

With very little shoreline to work with (less than 30 feet wide), AMCC created beach haul roads with off-road dump trucks to create safe passage to the north and south portions of the project. This had to be done without disturbing or destroying vegetation, and while monitoring for sea turtles and birds.

Not only was there very little access to the project area, but the County also promised the residents and visitors that portions of the public beach would stay open during the duration of the project. This added to the challenges that AMCC faced, as they had to provide access for not only the residents but also tourists. The project was constructed during peak tourist season, spring break and holiday weekends. AMCC was able to work with the locals and the tourists to provide access to the beach while not slowing down production and still finishing ahead of schedule.

Another challenge AMCC faced prior to construction commencement was with the resident gopher tortoises claiming space within the project area. The tortoises were not identified in the plans and specs during the bidding process; however, AMCC was able to pivot and work with the County and the state permitting agencies to create safe access on an already small and challenging beach and keep the wildlife safe. Upon completion of sand placement, the entire beach project area was tilled 36” for sea turtle nesting.

Many locals were vocal about their skepticism of the project when AMCC first put boots on the ground. However, by the end of the job, the AMCC crew received accolades from the residents and some locals even brought them snacks and water on a daily basis.