Army Corps rejects city’s request to delay work on jetties


City officials asked the Army Corps of Engineers earlier this month to postpone construction on two jetties — part of a $230 million coastal protection project that is eight weeks ahead of schedule — saying that the work would create a “major disruption” to West End residents during the busy summer season.

At three recent meetings between the city, the Army Corps, H&L Construction and the New York state Department of Conservation, city officials requested that the construction on jetties at Monroe Boulevard and Tennessee Avenue be postponed until after Labor Day.

But the Army Corps rejected the city’s request, saying that it would unnecessarily delay the project and create additional costs.

To date, H&L Construction, the contractor overseeing the project, completed work on eight of the 15 jetties, or groins, that began in March, two more than originally planned, according to Department of Public Works Commissioner John Mirando. Work on the jetties is set to be completed in May 2018.

Construction on jetties at Lincoln and Grand boulevards wrapped last week, and work on Monroe Boulevard and Tennessee Avenue was set to begin this week, Mirando said.

“While this is good news that the contractor is ahead of schedule,” Mirando said in an email to local civic associations, “the [Army Corps’] desire to move to the next two groins ... will create a major disruption for our residents…”

Mirando added that because the West End beaches are narrower, the contractor would have to create a haul road from New York to Tennessee avenues — a 13-block stretch — to transport large stones for the project and that residents would lose beach space.

Several large payloaders and other construction vehicles do the work on the beach. Two groins are under construction at a time, and take about a month to complete. There is no work on weekends or holidays.

In April, city officials persuaded the Army Corps 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 to reduce the impact on the summer season. As a result, the fencing that the Army Corps installed in March to create haul roads was temporarily removed.

In July, the Army Corps changed its work schedule at the request of the city, and construction was switched from Tennessee Avenue to Grand Boulevard, with officials saying that the move would significantly minimize beach closures over the busy summer season because Grand was closer to the staging area at New York Avenue.

“Our whole goal during the entire summer is to keep the project moving as quickly as possible yet disrupt as little amount of the beach as possible,” Mirando told the Herald.

In an Aug. 7 email to local civic associations, obtained by the Herald, Mirando said that the contractor would complete the jetties at Lincoln and Grand with nearly “a full month of beach season remaining,” and called for the work to be postponed until after Labor Day.

“I voiced the city's objection to continuing work on the next two groins…” Mirando wrote. “It has always been the understanding of the city that for the project to continue [past] six groins before the summer ended, that permission of the city would be required. The city is very supportive of the project, so allowing two more to be done during the summer was acceptable — pushing for two more is not acceptable.”

But Army Corps officials met the request with resistance.

“The work contract does not call for any unscheduled work stoppages,” the Army Corps said in an email to the Herald. “Work will resume as scheduled in order to ensure future flood risk reduction for the residents of the city of Long Beach.”

Project 11561, a local community Facebook group, first reported that the city had requested the delay and criticized the administration, saying that the city could have been on the hook for additional costs if work was postponed. Mirando said that the city would have disputed any costs.

“A stop work for the remainder of the summer would result in an unjustifiable additional expense to the federal government,” Michael Ortega, a representative of the Army Corps’ construction division, told civic leaders in an email.

“We would like to finish this project as soon as possible to ensure the safety of the residents and business owners of Long Beach,” the Army Corps told the Herald, “and avoid any undue financial burden a delay may cause to the federal government and the taxpayers of the United States.”