The Army Corps of Engineers joined the state Department of Environmental Conservation and local elected leaders on April 18 to announce the preparation of the second phase of the $230 million coastal protection project — sand replenishment — which is intended to protect the barrier island from future potentially destructive storms like Hurricane Sandy.
Project Manager Dan Falt explained to a room of more than 80 people in City Hall that the first phase — reconstructing 15 jetties, or groins, along the beach — was completed in the winter, and is intended to prevent erosion and help protect the shoreline between Jones and East Rockaway inlets from harsh storms. The project began in Point Lookout in 2016.
“You already got through what I think is the most disturbing aspect about this, as far as noise and destruction,” Falt told residents. The groins “appear to be functioning as we designed them, and we’re going to keep looking at them, making sure that they work.”
After a year of hauling about 250,000 tons of stone, Army Corps workers began cleaning the beach and staging areas at New York Avenue and Neptune Boulevard last week. Sue McCormick, of the DEC, said the groins would be monitored by the Army Corps for 50 years — the agency plans to track how the groins react to the sand placement.
About 4 million cubic yards of sand for beach and dunes would be hydraulically pumped onto the beach, Falt said, and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant vehicle and pedestrian crossovers would be built to provide access from the boardwalk to the beach.
A contract for sand dredging and placement was awarded to the low bidder, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Corporation, on April 16 for $51 million. The project is fully federally funded. Falt said he expects the first step of construction to be the pile driving for the crossovers, and that 1,000-foot sections of the beach would be closed off at a time to allow for sand placement.
McCormick added that the DEC and the Army Corps are not yet aware of the contractor’s construction schedule and are waiting on the submission of a work plan.
Department of Public Works Commissioner John Mirando said that while the timeline depends on the contractor’s work plan, he believes the pile driving for the crossovers might begin in the summer, and that the contractor has a maximum of 18 months to finish the sand placement work. He said he believes the work will move east to west. Officials said they don’t expect any major work to begin before the upcoming summer season.
The dredged sand will be taken from Jones Inlet, officials said, and was checked for quality multiple times. Mirando said the city also had its own consultant, Florida-based Coastal Planning and Engineering, check the quality of the sand.
“We narrowed down the dredging areas to the areas that have the best quality of sand, most applicable for Long Beach,” Falt said, adding that the placed sand would flatten over time to a natural slope.
“They would suck the sand up from the bottom of the ocean, put it in the hole, and then they pump it out onto the beach through a system of pipes,” Falt explained. “The slurry is pumped under the beach, and bulldozers move it around and configure it into the shape of the beach template.”
The sand will probably be dark-colored at first, Falt said, then whiten in about a week. The bulldozing process would run continuously.
Long Beach High School student Eddie Vrona asked whether the project would affect the surfing community and whether or not there would be a path for emergency vehicles on the beach.
“Absolutely, it will have an effect on surfing,” Falt said. “When that sand is placed, it’s very steep, and what it really needs is a few storms to rebuild the sandbars out there. So yes, there will be some temporary limited impacts to the quality of surfing. Throughout the east coast and west coast, it comes back, and we have every expectation it’ll be as good as it used to be once the profile adjusts.”
“As far as the safety on the beach,” McCormick added, “the contractor is required to keep access open for emergency vehicles, and that will get worked out in his safety plan that he hasn’t submitted to us yet.”
Other residents asked about the dune crossovers that would be built connecting the boardwalk to the beach. There would be a total of 14 crossovers, Mirando said, including 10 that would be 10-feet wide and four that would be 30-feet wide at New York Avenue, and National, Neptune and Riverside boulevards. Two of them — at New York Avenue and National Boulevard — would have bathroom stations while the Riverside Boulevard crossover would have a lifeguard station.
While the contractor plans to pile-drive the foundations for the bathrooms and lifeguard station, the city will put the construction of the actual structures — which Mirando said are already designed — out to bid. Before that can happen, he added, the city needs approval from the DEC for a coastal erosion hazard area permit. About $1.7 million in federal emergency management agency funds would go toward the construction.