The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently completed eight of 15 jetties in Long Beach, capping a busy summer season in which officials and residents had expressed concerns about the project’s impact on the city’s businesses and its quality of life.
The $230 million coastal protection project, which kicked off in Long Beach in March, includes the rehabilitation of 20 existing jetties, or groins, across the barrier island and construction of four new ones, as well as the addition of roughly 4.7 million cubic yards of sand for a system of berms and dunes along 35,000 feet of shoreline.
The berm, dune and groin system is designed to protect seven of the nine miles of public shoreline between Jones Inlet and East Rockaway Inlet — from the east end of Point Lookout to Nevada Avenue in Long Beach — from a 100-year storm. The project began in Point Lookout a year ago.
Hurricane Sandy decimated the city’s shoreline — the beach lost 294,000 cubic yards of sand — and officials contend that the project is crucial. Once it is completed, if another storm were to damage the beach, the city would be eligible for emergency rehabilitation funding to replace the sand.
“The latest round of storms that we have all watched on the news — and that have even touched our area — make us keenly aware of the need for the Army Corps project,” State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said. “Every morning I look upon the newly built jetties and am grateful for them, and for the future work that is to come. It’s only a matter of time before we see just how important they are.”
The first phase of the project included work on the rock jetties. Two groins are under construction at a time, and take about a month to complete. To date, H&L Construction, the contractor overseeing the project, has completed work on eight of the 15 jetties, two more than originally planned.
Army Corps officials now say that the remaining jetties in Long Beach will be completed this winter, and all of the groins across the barrier island are expected to be finished next spring. The construction of dunes will follow. Work currently under way at Tennessee Avenue and Monroe Boulevard began last month, but was initially set to begin in the fall, officials said.
“This project provides flood risk reduction to the residents and businesses of Long Beach,” the Army Corps said in a statement. “We would like to move this project along as quickly as possible in order to further reduce [that] risk …”
Local officials say that the new jetties provided some protection during the remnants of Hurricane Jose earlier this month, by trapping sand and protecting the beach from erosion. They are “gathering sand to help fortify the beach,” City Manager Jack Schnirman said. “People are really getting it, because they can see what the new jetties look like and the protection it provides. I would say now, more than ever, we all understand how important it is to have an engineered beach and a proper dune structure.”
Project moving along despite concerns
Army Corps and local officials say that overall, the project has proceeded well, despite a number of concerns among residents about the work over the busy summer season. In April, hundreds of people packed City Hall to criticize noise, vibrations when large stones were unloaded, the impact on nearby businesses, idling trucks, fumes, dust and other quality-of-life issues.
Residents and beachgoers also had to endure the strong smell of tens of thousands of mussels that were uncovered when cranes lifted the old rocks.
The corps said it worked to minimize such inconveniences. The city persuaded the agency to work on the groins at or near the staging areas, at New York Avenue and Neptune Boulevard, after Memorial Day to avoid hauling rocks across the beach and minimize the impact on the summer season.
But the corps rejected a request by the city in August to delay work at Tennessee and Monroe until after Labor Day, saying that it would unnecessarily delay the project and create additional costs.
“The residents and beachgoers that I spoke to were willing to overlook any sort of inconvenience, knowing how important the project is,” said City Council Vice President Anthony Eramo. “The Army Corps really listened to the city administration and our concerns — especially [about] closing some of the busier beaches at certain times — and they were really good partners in trying to do this with minimal disruption.”
The next big challenge, Eramo said, will be next year, when work on the berms and dunes begins.
The Army Corps is expected to award a contract in November 2017 for that phase of the work, which will take about two years to complete. The plan calls for 25-foot-wide dunes, parallel to the boardwalk, that will rise to a height of 14 feet nearest the boardwalk. They will slope down to a 40-foot-wide berm at an elevation of 9 feet, and a 130-foot-wide berm 2 feet lower that will slope down to the waterline. The project will include 31 dune crossovers in Long Beach alone, and the dunes would connect with those already in place at Nickerson Beach and in the city’s West End.
The corps plans to use sand dredged from a mile off Long Beach, officials said, and the new sand will be “comparable” to the existing beach.
“From what I understand, they pump sand 24 hours a day,” Eramo said, “and I think there’s going to be noise and lights.”
Army Corps work to date:
Edwards Boulevard: complete
Riverside Boulevard: complete
New York Avenue: complete
Roosevelt Boulevard: complete
Arizona Avenue: complete
Franklin Boulevard: complete
Lincoln Boulevard: complete
Grand Boulevard: complete
Tennessee Avenue: in progress
Monroe Boulevard: in progress
Georgia Avenue: fall 2017 or winter 2018
National Boulevard: fall 2017 or winter 2018
Washington Boulevard: fall 2017 or winter 2018
Laurelton Boulevard: fall 2017 or winter 2018
Lafayette Boulevard: fall 2017 or winter 2018