Engineers Unearth Ancient Sand at Wellfleet Dike

By Mary Ann Bragg

WELLFLEET — Drillers pulled up plugs of sand at least 20,000 years old at the Chequessett Neck Road dike Wednesday, in one of the first visible stages of the proposed Herring River restoration project.

The drills went as deep as 80 feet and pulled up soil that hadn’t seen the light of day in thousands and thousands of years — “probably longer,” according to Dan LaFrance, of Fuss & O’Neill, the engineering consulting firm conducting the dig.

Expected to cost between $25 million and $50 million, the project is managed by the Herring River Restoration Committee under an agreement with the Cape Cod National Seashore and the towns of Wellfleet and Truro.

The core sampling will establish what the ground is like where the new, wider dike would be built. The sampling is the first of five stages of a $109,000 contract designed to meet state transportation guidelines and start the design of the new dike.

“Sand,” LaFrance said Wednesday morning of the drilling results so far.

The Fuss & O’Neill contract is part of the restoration’s three-year permitting and engineering phase expected to end in 2016. The contract is funded by grants from NOAA and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, according to Friends of Herring River president Don Palladino.

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