“It’s great that they are doing the beachside, but they have to do the back bays as well,” he said. “We need bulkheading and other types of mitigation across the whole barrier island. When the bay comes up, the water goes into the storm drains, into the sewers and right into the streets."
Still, Vietri said creating a plan to protect communities along the bay is much more challenging than developing a project for the beachfront.
“The bay tends to be more complicated than the ocean side,” he said. “You have three things that cause damage: wave attack, erosion and inundation. When you’re in a back bay and dealing with the canals and all the features in an estuary environment, you’re solution set to protect against those three items is limited by the geography — it’s a lot easier to provide a line of protection against the ocean.”
He added that any project for the bay would require federal approval and funding — among other factors — and it could be years before the actual work begins.
“It has to be determined if it’s economically justified, if the benefits outweigh the costs,” he said.
Vietri said that the corps has yet to begin its work on the beach. Plans call for a dune system nearly 16 feet above sea level that would extend from the West End of Long Beach to Point Lookout, and raise the height of the beach by five feet. Vietri said that the allocation of federal funding and environmental issues are being worked out, among others.
“We’re working through the process now,” Vietri said. “A lot of issues have to be resolved, but we’re trying to lay it all out, develop a schedule and take the necessary steps to make sure it gets completed. We’re fairly optimistic that it will move ahead.”