The Army Corps of Engineers was expected to begin work on a coastal protection project in Long Beach on Friday, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, six months ahead of schedule.
Work on the project to protect the barrier island began in Point Lookout last August; Hurricane Sandy decimated the city’s shoreline — the beach lost 294,000 cubic yards of sand — and officials contend that the $230 million project is crucial.
It includes the rehabilitation of 17 existing jetties, or groins, 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 will taper off in East Atlantic Beach.
Last year, the Army Corps awarded Bay Shore-based H&L Construction a $38 million contract to start work on the groins, which is expected to take two years. In Long Beach, two groins will be under construction at a time, and those areas will be closed, the Herald reported in January. Each groin is expected to take about a month to complete, and sections of the beach will reopen as construction moves along.
On Friday, the DEC said that H&L was set to begin the work in Long Beach.
According to the DEC, the contractor plans to have a small crew of workers and delivery vehicles transporting and installing sand fencing across a roughly 2.5-mile stretch of work area that’s part of the “beach construction access zone.”
“Beach access will be provided at every street end, provided it is safe, except immediately adjacent to the staging areas,” the DEC said in a statement. “The fencing is expected to take a few days to setup and is a prelude to the setup of material staging areas on each end of the work area for construction of the 15 groin rehabilitations. Because of limited access near the boardwalk, the contractor will be using both New York Avenue and Neptune Boulevard to access the beach.”
The DEC added that H&L expects work on the groins to begin soon in the area of Edwards and Riverside boulevards.
In January, officials called on the Army Corps to rethink its proposed schedule, as the agency looked to begin the project sooner than anticipated because the work in Point Lookout was ahead of schedule, creating concern that it would disrupt the busy summer season.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford and City Manager Jack Schnirman called on the corps to double the size of its work crews during the spring and fall in order to maintain the same schedule without interrupting the summer season.
Officials for the corps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This project is vital to protecting our coastline from future storms, and we have been working hard to mitigate the impact on the summer season,” Kaminsky said in a statement. “I am encouraged that construction has begun and optimistic it will be completed shortly so that we can move on to phase two."
“The city’s management team has worked closely with Senator Kaminsky, Assemblywoman Miller, Legislator Ford, and Senator Schumer’s office to ensure that the inconvenience Long Beach residents face this summer would be minimized while also allowing the project to proceed in a timely manner with measures put in place to protect the city from future storms,” Schnirman said in a statement. “Throughout this process, our administration and the City Council will continue to stand up for Long Beach.”
The Herald will update this story.