State Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey both praised the inter-agency collaboration. “The recovery process has been a team effort here from day one,” McDonald said. “Our departments — Parks, DOT, DEC –– have worked together with Governor Cuomo and other state and federal officials, putting together a plan to fix Ocean Parkway and restore the protective dunes.”
Dunes are already back in place along a substantial portion of the five-mile stretch between Jones Beach and Gilgo state parks.
According to the DOT, new sand for the project comes from the bottom of nearby Fire Island Inlet, which the Norfolk Dredging Company, a subcontractor based in Chesapeake, Va., began dredging in early February. To date, Norfolk has piped 622,000 cubic yards of sand — of the 800,000 cubic yards that the project calls for — to Jones Beach Island. Dump trucks have deposited 360,000 cubic yards on the south side of Ocean Parkway, and bulldozers have shaped the sand into dunes to protect the parkway from the ocean.
Twelve to 14 trucks, operated by shift crews, work around the clock, moving 15,000 cubic yards of sand into place each day, six days a week. In the end, they will have transported enough sand to fill a football field 37½ stories high.
Last Friday, workers stood on top of the newly created dunes off Ocean Parkway, planting strands of beach grass to prevent the sand from blowing away, stabilizing the dunes. They will place 1.2 million individual grass seedlings, as well as five miles of dune fence in two rows, according to the DOT.
Officials at last Friday’s news conference stressed that the state is aiming for a “natural restoration” instead of trying to “harden” the barrier island against future severe storms.
The state “flew up many coastal experts that took a look at it,” Harvey said. “And often on a barrier island with shifting sands, you can harden part of the shore, but then in the parts that are not hardened, the actual erosion is accelerated.”