By the numbers
SAND TO BE DELIVERED: 360,000 tons
TOTAL TRUCK TRIPS: 17,000
DAILY START TIME: 7 a.m./6 a.m. after time change
DAILY END TIME: 6 p.m.
DAYS PER WEEK: 6 (with breaks over Thankgiving weekend and Christmas week)
SAND COST: $4 million
TOTAL COST: $9.5 million
PROJECT 24-HOUR HOTLINE: 1-855-456-4792
RECORDED UPDATES: 239-252-2996
Source: Collier County government
NAPLES — Safety concerns prompted Naples officials to close a second public beach access along Gulf Shore Boulevard North as the county’s massive sand haul moved toward wrapping up its first week.
Beach patrols closed the Vedado Way beach access Friday afternoon, kicking between 30 and 40 people off the narrow Park Shore beach to make more room for dump trucks that were passing too close for comfort, officials said.
The closing is part of a new normal that emerged along the Collier County coast this week for beachgoers who found themselves sharing their favorite spots with a noisy platoon of trucks and loaders.
Crews expected to dump 818 truckloads of sand, or about 18,000 tons, at Vanderbilt Beach by the end of the day Friday. Work began there Monday.
Another 272 loads of sand, or 6,000 tons, was expected to be delivered to Park Shore, where work didn’t begin until Wednesday.
The $9.5 million project, which continues Saturday and could last until mid-February, will deliver 17,000 truckloads of sand from an Immokalee sand mine to drop-off points on Naples, Park Shore and Vanderbilt Beach.
“I believe we’re on track,” Collier County project manager Clint Perryman said Friday.
Beachgoers have been cooperative about the project, including those that had to pick up their chairs and blankets at Vedado Way and find another beach, Naples Harbormaster Roger Jacobsen said.
The closing is bad timing, just as tourist season is gearing up, and is another example of why the truck haul is a bad idea, Naples resident Sandi Leddy said.
“I hate to see it because I hate to keep people off the beach, but they had to do it,” Leddy said.
Vedado Way will stay closed until crews finish adding sand to that stretch of beach and trucks no longer have to squeeze past the beach access at high tide, officials said. It was unclear how long it will stay closed.
A project manager for one of the sand haulers said the safety risk was significant enough that inspectors would have closed the project down had they seen it.
“It really was not a good situation,” Phillips and Jordan project manager Joe Hennelly said.
Hennelly said the the job on Naples and Park Shore beaches is starting off more slowly than projected to avoid overwhelming neighborhoods with trucks. Work is slated to begin Monday at Third Avenue North.
On Vanderbilt Beach, hotel guests and haulers are coexisting with few complaints, hotel managers said Friday.
La Playa and Vanderbilt Beach Resort notified their guests ahead of time that the beach project would be ongoing so they wouldn’t be surprised when they got here.
“They’ve been pretty good,” La Playa manager Ron Vuy said. “There’s been a few grumblings but for the most part, they’re doing great.”
Crews are stopping work early on Saturday at La Playa’s request so the work will not interfere with a beach wedding at the resort.
At the Vanderblt Beach Resort, workers are setting up guests’ beach chairs along the water’s edge so the trucks pass behind the beachgoers, manager Mick Moore said.
“It’s probably gone a little better than we expected,” he said.
The beach project overlaps with tourist season so as not to interfere with summer nesting season for sea turtles, which are a protected species under state and federal law.
Crews are staying away from the few nests on Vanderbilt Beach that still are unhatched and are smoothing the tire tracks out of the sand to give hatchlings a clear path to the Gulf of Mexico.
The loudest outcry over the sand project this week has come from Lee County, where businesses and neighborhoods along Corkscrew Road sued the county over using the road.
After a summer of discontent over the truck routes through Naples neighborhoods, coastal residents have been comparatively quiet as the trucks started rolling this week.
“I have a feeling it’s only going to get more intense as time goes on, but so far, so good,” Councilman Doug Finlay said.
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Here’s a link to Collier County’s website on the truck haul project:
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