Army Corps to replenish sand in Long Beach

Agency will seek noise variance from ZBA to work 24 hours a day


The Army Corps of Engineers is set to continue work on the $50 million second phase of its federally funded coastal protection project on the beach — the replenishment of sand and dune construction — with sand pumping scheduled to begin July 10.

Army Corps representatives, along with state Department of Environmental Conservation and Long Beach officials, announced the work schedule to a room of about 50 people at City Hall on June 27.

To minimize the impact the work will have on the busy summer season, DEC representative Sue McCormick said, the city and the corps agreed to work from west to east on one dune crossover at a time, leaving the beaches in front of the construction sites open for beachgoers.

About 4 million cubic yards of sand for dune construction and beach replenishment will be hydraulically pumped from an offshore barge, as well as for 14 vehicle and pedestrian crossovers to provide access from the boardwalk to the beach.

While workers began driving piles for the dune crossovers last month, the dredged sand will be pumped on July 10 at New York Avenue beach before the work moves west to Ohio Avenue. The pile-driving is expected to take about a month, if the corps is granted a noise variance to work 24 hours a day.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a hearing on July 17, at which the corps will seek the variance.

Project Manager Dan Falt said that the corps is looking to complete the project by September, nearly a year ahead of schedule. Falt added that if the variance is granted, the corps expects to build about 200 feet of beach per day. Sand replenishment would take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. if the variance is not granted.

Ten crossovers will be 10 feet wide, and four — at New York Avenue and National, Riverside and Neptune boulevards — will be 30 feet wide. Two of them — at New York Avenue and National Boulevard — will have restrooms, and the Riverside Boulevard crossover will have a lifeguard station.

The pile-driving began at Riverside Boulevard, and will move west as each beach is completed, Army Corps officials said. The work will move to Edwards, National, Magnolia, Laurelton, Lafayette, Washington, Lindell and Grand boulevards, New York Avenue, then to Surfside and Sunrise beaches in Point Lookout, and finally to Neptune, Franklin, Lincoln, Monroe and Long Beach boulevards.

While the contractor is pile-driving the crossovers, the city will put the construction of the restrooms and lifeguard station out to bid. Department of Public Works Commissioner John Mirando said that the city is awaiting approval from the DEC for a coastal erosion hazard area permit.

“They’re driving the piles now at each one of the locations, and when the sand is in and they build the dune, then they’ll come back and build the crossovers that go down to the beach,” Mirando explained. “That’s going to be paid for through $1.7 million in FEMA funding, plus $1.1 million in bond authorizations that the city will be paying.”

A contract for the dredging and sand placement was awarded in April to the lowest bidder, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Corporation, for $51 million. Sand will be pumped from an offshore barge, and payloaders and bulldozers will shape the profile of the beach.

Falt said that 1,000-foot sections of the beach would be closed off to allow for sand placement, which will extend the beach 200 to 300 feet between the water and the new dunes. The dredged sand will be taken from Jones Inlet, officials said, and was checked for quality a number of times. A 30-inch pipe, running 3,400 feet from the ocean to Long Beach Boulevard, will pump sand onto the beach, and move 300 feet west each day.

“The first season, you’ll probably lose 100 feet of it due to the adjustment of the beach to the natural slope,” Falt explained. “So you’ll see a huge beach, and then it settles down into its more permanent beach.”

Some residents asked why the work would start at New York Avenue and move against the littoral drift, the natural movement of sand along the shoreline.

“We have a beach season out here — the city wants the season protected,” McCormick said. “They really want us to do as little work as possible along the boardwalk over the summer. Starting at New York is a compromise, quite frankly — not what was originally designed.”

The entire $230 million coastal protection project, which includes Point Lookout and Lido Beach, is intended to protect the barrier island from future storms like Hurricane Sandy, and is expected to be finished in August 2019 — but Falt said the work could be completed this summer if the noise variance is granted. The corps finished the first phase of the project — the reconstruction of 15 jetties, or groins, along the beach — over the winter.

The jetties and dunes are designed to protect seven of the nine miles of public shoreline between Jones Inlet and East Rockaway Inlet — from the east end of the Point Lookout to Nevada Avenue in Long Beach — from a 100-year storm like Sandy. The project began in Point Lookout in 2016.

Sandy decimated the city’s shoreline — the beach lost 294,000 cubic yards of sand — and officials contend that the project is crucial. Additionally, once it is completed, if another major storm were to damage the beach, the city would be eligible for federal emergency rehabilitation funding to replace the sand.

Falt and McCormick said that about half of each jetty would be covered in sand after the replenishment. Marvin Weiss, vice chair of the local Surfrider chapter, questioned why the jetties would be partially covered and how that would affect trapping the sand and preventing erosion.

“We’re about to put millions of cubic yards of sand in here, and it’s going to create a new equilibrium, and we’re going to keep watching the groins and the sand and the system to see if our design is good,” Falt explained. “We’re not just going to walk away and forget about it.”

McCormick said that the beach would be monitored for 50 years after the project is completed to track how the jetties react to the sand placement.