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Point Lookout groundbreaking begins $230M coast-hardening project

Rep. Peter King, left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer,

Rep. Peter King, left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, along with local officials, announce a coastal protection project Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, in Point Lookout. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A long-awaited $230 million coastal-protection project for Long Beach and the barrier island from Jones Inlet to Atlantic Beach broke ground Wednesday to minimize beach erosion, flooding and damage from extreme weather events like superstorm Sandy.

The roughly four-year project spearheaded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers includes new stones for jetties and nearly 5 million cubic yards of sand fill and dunes about 14 feet above sea level along 7 miles of the Long Beach barrier island.

“The project’s a win-win,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the groundbreaking on the beach at Point Lookout, joined by officials including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who once represented the area. “We get our beaches protected, our communities protected, if, God forbid, there’s another Sandy.”

Work will start in Point Lookout and Lido Beach, moving west toward Long Beach next year by adding sand and jetties or groins — stones that help stabilize the sand — across 35,000 linear feet from Point Lookout to the western boundary of Long Beach at Nevada Avenue.

The plan also calls for tapering the end of the project into East Atlantic Beach.

Schumer and King, along with members of the New York congressional delegation, helped secure funding for the project through a $60 billion Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which makes supplemental appropriations for federal agencies and programs related to Sandy expenses.

The 2013 federal bill includes $5.4 billion for U.S. Army Corps for restoration, replenishment and hardening projects in New York and New Jersey. The corps’ emergency and long-term projects include dredging more than a dozen inlets and a plan to fortify an 83-mile stretch of South Shore beaches between the Fire Island Inlet and Montauk Point.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said the Long Beach project “is so important for our shoreline, really the first line of defense in storm surge.”

Officials have said Sandy was a once-every-180-years storm, but new protections would reduce the damage seen four years ago. The barrier island lost 294,000 cubic yards of sand during Sandy, which destroyed much of its boardwalk and flooded neighborhoods.

Col. David Caldwell, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, said the first phase includes rehabilitating 18 groins that have not been repaired or maintained since constructed in the 1950s, and building four new ones. That phase will wrap up in early 2018.

Contractors plan to haul 250,000 tons of stone from New Jersey across the Atlantic Beach Bridge.

The second phase, which will last about two years, includes the beach fill, the dunes, crossovers for pedestrian and vehicle access, and vegetation to keep the dunes in place, Caldwell said.

Aram Terchunian, a coastal geologist with First Coastal in Westhampton Beach, said the wider beaches, which absorb wave impact, and higher dunes that absorb storm surge, mimic natural protections.

“That’s been lacking in Long beach for a couple of decades and we learned the lesson during Sandy how important it is to have those natural features,” he said. “It’s good for the people and it’s good for the environment.”

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said the city “is thrilled to see this critically important, long overdue project finally moving forward as we continue rebuilding a stronger, smarter and safer Long Beach.”

The City Council had rejected an effort to build dune protections in 2006. Schnirman said the council “really set a direction post-storm that we can no longer tolerate leaving our barrier island and our homes unprotected.”

Lillian Spannaus, whose family has owned property in Point Lookout since the 1930s, said she was excited to see the project begin.

“It’s a beautiful town and we want to make sure it lasts for generations to come,” said Spannaus, 53, a reading specialist in upstate Brewster who spends her summers in Point Lookout.

King said the residents of Long Beach, Point Lookout and Lido Beach “never lost their spirit — even in those dark, terrible days after Sandy hit . . . and this is a major part of the fight.”

Beach protection project

  • Funded by $230 million in federal money.
  • Work will begin in Point Lookout and Lido Beach, move west toward Long Beach next year, adding sand and jetties across 35,000 linear feet from Point Lookout to the western boundary of Long Beach at Nevada Avenue.
  • Plan would taper the end of the project into East Atlantic Beach.
  • The project includes the rehabilitation of 18 jetties and the new construction of four jetties.
  • Nearly 5 million cubic yards of sand will replenish the beach, and dunes about 14 feet above sea level will be built.
  • The two-phase project will last about four years.

SOURCE: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Newsday research

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