The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $10.7 million contract to shore up a severely eroded beach on Dune Road in Hampton Bays with work expected to begin next month, officials announced Thursday.
The barrier island has sustained several washovers since October in the area near the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Dock, the state's second-largest fishing port, putting millions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure in jeopardy. The area, also home to a marina, three restaurants and a coastal escape route, is vulnerable to erosion because the jetties along the Shinnecock Inlet disrupt the natural flow of sand.
The Army Corps on Wednesday awarded the contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company of Oakbrook, Illinois, to address the coastal damage inflicted by fall storms. The project calls for dredging 600,000 cubic yards of sand and is expected to begin the first week of February and completed by March, weather permitting. The work will restore the beach to its 2005 level of protection with a 15-foot-high dune and a 140-foot-wide berm from the toe of the dune.
“Awarding this contract will allow USACE to address the coastal flooding at West of Shinnecock Inlet." New York District Commander Col. Thomas Asbery said in a news release. "Safety continues to be our top priority as we develop tangible solutions to mitigate risk to these communities."
Great Lakes will bring in a cutterhead dredge to perform the work with no effect on other dredging projects underway in Westhampton Beach and Fire Island. Officials had suggested repositioning other dredges to fast track the project.
Suffolk County undertook a project in November to dredge 90,000 cubic yards of sand and build a berm along the beach, although much of it had been washed out by year's end.
Federal lawmakers Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), as well as local officials, had been calling on the Army Corps to immediately bolster the area with hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand to protect the barrier island. Officials applauded the bid award on Thursday.
"This is an urgent situation along Dune Road affecting our community’s small businesses and jobs, and I applaud the Army Corps for doing everything in its power to respond to our requests quickly and effectively regarding this urgent matter,” Zeldin said in a statement.
"I’m glad the Army Corps has acted and I urge them to do the same with approving emergency repairs for Fire Island because these projects are too important to linger,” Schumer said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a statement called the repairs "critical" and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said the work will help the region prepare for future storms.