Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Playa Del Carmen Beach Restoration January, 2010

So .... after much anticipation and numerous false start dates, Playa Del Carmen is now getting a new beach, or at least a beach makeover, if you will.

With little or no notice, boats and equipment started showing up just offshore a couple of weeks ago. Within days a giant pipeline was laid along the ocean floor about 400 yards offshore and extending onto the beach near Constituentes. At first further progress was slow but when the heavy earth moving equipment showed up things really got going. In a little more than a week the beach has now been extended from Constituentes to almost Juarez a distance of more than half a mile and the pace of the work seems to be increasing. From east to west the beach width has increased about 35 to 45 yards.

Large tracors transport new pieces of pipe down the beach and connect them to the existing pipeline as the beach restoration moves steadily southward. The sand, mixed with water is pumped from the ship offshore through the pipeline under very high pressure and is then spread and leveled by bulldozers. The process is impressive to watch although it is difficult to get very close.

The sand is coming from a point just offshore from Cozumel, nine miles away. The container ship makes 2 or 3 trips a day to raise more sand from the ocean floor. The sand is sucked up into the ship vacuum cleaner style and then is pumped back out onto Playa's beach when the ship returns from Cozumel.

Not everyone is pleased by the new beach, especially many tourists who are vacationing in Playa at the moment and will not get a chance to even sit on it while they are here. Of course the little man who used to clean the little beach each day is a little overwhelmed as well. Hi sworkload has just increased a hundredfold.

The beach is entirely closed from Constituentes south as the restoration moves in that direction and that area of beach is entirely off limits. The area north of Constituentes is still open but a bit of a walk if you are staying downtown.

There also seems to be some confusion as to who is actually doing the beach work. At first it was said that a Belgian company, Jan De Nul, was doing the work with very high credentials for this type of project. Later the local newspapers said it was a Mexican company. I have a feeling if the project is a success it will be reported to have been done by a Mexican company and if it is a failure it will have been done by the Belgian company. Life expectancy of the new beach is estimated at 3 to 5 years at a cost somewhere around 90 million dollars US.

The project will continue 4.5 kilometers south of the ferry dock to the south end of Playacar with a terminus around the Sandos Hotel where a stone jetty has already been constructed to help keep the new beach where it belongs.

This video was taken down around 10th and the beach. The final frame showing the people on the beach is a futuristic projection that I thought was necessary. Within a few days, it should be a reality. Enjoy!

As a follow up, here is a photo of the new beach taken on January 23rd. Click on it for a bigger, better view.

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