If the cutting of the Golden Ray has been unexpectedly quiet, a project to fortify St. Simons public beach access points is making up for it while heavy construction equipment works from the beach.

A big material handler has loudly stacked huge granite boulders along Neptune Park at the pier this week as a wide-tired dump truck and front-end loader hauled the rocks down the beach at low tide. The big claw at the end of the material handler boom sounds loudly when the operator moves the rocks in place then pushes them into position.

It’s a project with a lot of movement with three material handlers. One loaded the boulders onto two dump trucks at the parking lot at the former Coast Guard station. The trucks hauled them south to 9th Street and dumped them at the public beach access. There a second material handler loaded the stones onto another dump truck and into the bucket of a front-end loader that carried them to Neptune Park and dumped them onto the sand for placement onto and in front of the existing rocks.

It is far from an around-the-clock operation. With the king tides, there is a lot of exposed beach at times, but the tide comes in quickly and, over the next few days, the beach will be exposed only at night.

The contractor had planned to work from the high ground of Neptune Park, but the benches, walkways and underground infrastructure made that method problematic. The Georgia DNR approved the temporary use of the heavy vehicles on the beach, and the tide erased all their tracks.

That means the contractor will shift to beach crossovers and other sites that can be worked from solid ground. The project is less than halfway complete.

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