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Duxbury Beach stronger: 218,000 tons of of sand trucked in to build higher, wider dunes
Duxbury Beach stronger: 218,000 tons of of sand trucked in to build higher, wider dunes
Duxbury Beach stronger: 218,000 tons of of sand trucked in to build higher, wider dunes

Published on: 04/13/2024

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Large power shovels dig in at Duxbury Beach and reshape the sand dunes
Walking along Gurnet Road at Duxbury Beach offered an unusual view of how dunes can be rebuilt and reshaped. Duxbury Construction excavators are at work.

DUXBURY – Visitors to Duxbury Beach this spring – walkers, joggers, cyclists, bird watchers – have had an extraterrestrial attraction.

A beach walk or over-the-sand vehicle trip has been more than scenic views and fresh air, with Gurnet Light in the distance. For three months, a parade of trucks, excavators and other heavy equipment has literally moved the earth to try and save the critical barrier beach from further erosion.

Since December, more than 168,000 cubic yards, or 218,000 tons, of sand has been brought in by truck and added to separate parts of the six-mile beach.

This year's work has included the Marshfield/Duxbury seawall and the beach from Powder Point Bridge south to the first cross-over on Gurnet Road.

As that work winds up, the annual planting of 30,000 culms of American beach grass and woody shrubs to help hold the dunes in place has begun.

Reservation volunteers began planting the beach grass April 6 and 7.

"Duxbury Beach will look different this year," Brynna McGlathery, assistant director of the private nonprofit Duxbury Beach Reservation, said of the beach restoration project.

"Our aim is to build the dunes higher and wider and make the beach barrier stronger."

There have been two projects this year. The first began in December and was at the northern end of the beach in front of the seawall that extends into both Marshfield and Duxbury. The two towns paid for that work, with some grant funding.

The second project was paid for by the private nonprofit Duxbury Beach Reservation. The work extended from the east end of Powder Point Bridge south to the first cross-over on Gurnet Road. That project is just now wrapping up as 450 fenceposts along the rebuilt dunes are being replaced.

A total of 168,000 cubic yards of sand has been trucked in – 85,935 cubic yards for the towns' portion by the seawall and 83,000 cubic yards for the Duxbury Beach Reservation's work.

The sand for the reservation's dune project was donated by several homeowners who live in the area of Teakettle Lane in Duxbury. The contractor was Duxbury Construction, which had 14 trucks hauling in 10 loads of sand a day at the peak in March for the reservation project.

Because large vehicles cannot use Powder Point Bridge, the trucks traveled down Route 139 in Marshfield, to enter at Duxbury Beach Park. Despite the truck traffic, Gurnet Road remained open to vehicles going to Gurnet and Saquish in Plymouth, as well as to walkers or over-the-sand vehicles.

"That is some really large equipment," one woman walking with her husband said as she stopped to watch.

The trucks deposited the sand in large piles on the dunes. Excavators, smaller trucks and other equipment moved and graded the reshaped dunes.

The Woods Hole Group used computer modeling to design the new Duxbury Beach Reservation landscape, McGlathery said. The scientists relied on extensive analysis of the quality and size of the sand grains and the expected energy of the oncoming waves.

"We wanted to make sure the sand brought in is perfectly compatible with the material that is there," McGlathery said.

For all the restoration work that has gone on for the past five years, it is expected that eventually some of the new sand will be moved away to new locations by inevitable storms.

"People say 'You brought in all that sand and it's just going to wash away,' McGlathery said. "We say that it is doing it's job.

"Some of the sand will move south and make that part of the beach stronger. Some will move off-shore and affect the wave action there. That's OK. By being there, the sand slows the wave energy. Duxbury Beach is sand-starved, so this is a nature-based approach to making it stronger."

Maggie Kearney, a past president of Duxbury Beach Reservation and current trustee, lives in Duxbury along Route 139 and said there was a steady presence of passing trucks for most of the day for 12 weeks.

The sand that was hauled in looks browner that the sand that was already on the beach. McGlathery explained that is because it has more iron in it and that once the sun bleaches it, it will turn whiter.

Protecting the beach has required annual maintenance for several years. In 2019, the 100th anniversary of Duxbury Beach, the reservation began the new dune restoration project to strengthen the "living" shoreline.

Last year's project, which restored an area by Duxbury Beach Park , added 120,000 tons of sand.

The barrier beach prevents the Atlantic Ocean from washing over Gurnet Road and flooding into Duxbury Bay and the town harbor.

Kearney, 81, a lifelong resident, said that local quarries are running out of sand and have stopped letting other towns draw from their supplies. She praised the generosity of the Duxbury homeowners who donated the sand for the beach project and said it was a significant savings over past years when the trucking costs from Carver or Middleboro sand pits were very expensive.

Duxbury Beach Reservation was formed in 1974. There is a a report on the Duxbury Beach Reservation's web site about the 2023 restoration project.

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Duxbury Beach Reservation project is adding and moving tons of sand.
Watching the heavy equipment haul in and moves tons of new sand at Duxbury Beach is an unusual sight for beach walkers and bird watchers.

There is also an online PowerPoint slide presentation with photos of the town's beach and dune work that was given at a March 19, 2024 public meeting.

The Duxbury Beach Reservation, the towns of Duxbury and Marshfield, the Woods Hole Group and the state Office of Coastal Zone Management have all been involved in the work.

Reach Sue Scheible at [email protected].

News Source : https://www.patriotledger.com/story/news/local/2024/04/13/duxbury-marshfield-plymouth-add-138000-cubic-yards-of-sand-to-duxbury-beach-erosion/72713853007/

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