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RACE Coastal Awarded Achievement in Civil Engineering 

Race Coastal Presented Achievement in Civil Engineering Award 

October 8, 2020


This fall, the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers (CSCE) honored RACE Coastal Engineering (RACE) with the 2020 Achievement in Civil Engineering (ACE) Award for the South Benson Marina Dredging & Beach Nourishment Project in Fairfield, CT. The award, in the <$5 million construction value category, honors the design and construction achievements of Connecticut civil engineers.


The award comes following the more than 27,000 cubic yards of sand that was hydraulically pumped onto Jennings Beach this past winter as part of a maintenance dredging project for the adjacent South Benson Marina.


As the South Benson Marina entrance channel was shoaling in to the point where safe vessel transit to and from the marina was limited during periods of low water, the Town of Fairfield contracted RACE to develop and implement a dredging strategy. South Benson provides seasonal slips for over 600 residents’ boats as well as year-round docking for state and local emergency and conservation vessels. The marina’s boat ramps, fishing pier, picnic areas, and the adjacent Town maintained Jennings Beach (which includes kayak and catamaran racks) make this area the heart of the community’s recreational, water-dependent activity.


With the close proximity of the channel to Jennings Beach, RACE recognized a “win-win” opportunity to reuse the dredged material to restore and nourish the Beach while at the same time clearing the channel for safe navigation.

For the work to be permitted, the dredge material would need to meet both chemical analytical testing requirements and be compatible with that of the native beach sand characteristics; otherwise the material would need to be relocated offshore by barges, or to an inland location by trucks, significantly increasing costs and forever losing a valuable sand resource. Following receipt of acceptable sediment testing results and specific, documented steps to protect habitats and ecosystems, the dredging and beach nourishment project was approved by the State and Federal regulatory agencies during the summer of 2019.


By winter, a plan was in-place for the project to take shape. RACE worked with the Town, ecological specialists and the dredging contractor, Mobile Dredging and Video Pipe, Inc. (MDVP) of Chester, PA, to hydraulically dredge the material from the seabed and pump it, at times some 2,000’, onto the beach via a 10” pipeline. Dozers and other earthmoving track equipment then distributed and graded the material to final form. “It was quite the process to see first-hand,” said RACE Project Manager Steve Sternberg. “In Connecticut, and throughout most of Long Island Sound, dredging is typically conducted by mechanical means with a crane and clamshell. The muds are fine-grained in nature, and there is rarely a practical means by which the dredged material can be managed other than through offshore relocation. The channel bottom characteristics and proximity to Jennings Beach allowed us to pursue something really unique and highlight the potential for beneficial reuse alternatives for dredged material in the region.”


Earlier this year, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced the South Benson Marina Dredging & Beach Nourishment Project a winner of the America’s 2020 Best Restored Beaches Award. The national award highlights the crucial role that beach restoration projects play to local recreation, economies, ecosystems and shoreline protection.


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Town of Fairfield’s South Benson Dredging & Beach Nourishment project is the first on-site repurpose of dredged material project of substantial size for a Connecticut municipality,  saving the community money, environmental habitats, air pollution, recreational space and coastal erosion.

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Dozers and track equipment distributing and grading the material to the beach design profile

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Completed in 2020, the project restores access to our waterways while building up our shoreline.

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