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Feds answer lawmakers' calls to fast-track replenishment of Dune Road

Sand is removed from Dune Road near the

Sand is removed from Dune Road near the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Dock in November, after Southampton Town officials issued a state of emergency for a portion of the roadway. Credit: Southampton Town

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin seeking bids Wednesday for a project to replenish a severely eroded beach along Dune Road in Hampton Bays after lawmakers pushed for the federal agency to fast-track the work.

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 is vulnerable to erosion because the jetties along the Shinnecock Inlet disrupt the natural flow of sand.

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. Brookhaven and Islip town officials are also hoping the federal agency can help repair beaches damaged by the autumn storms along Fire Island.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has done the right thing by heeding the call to swiftly use their emergency powers to place sand on Dune Road to help prevent future flooding and breaches," Schumer said. "I will continue to urge the Army Corps to approve emergency repairs for Fire Island because it has also suffered severe damage and is in grave need of federal assistance."

The Dune Road project will include the placement of approximately 600,000 to 800,000 cubic yards of sand to restore this area to its 2005 authorization level, which would be a better, more robust outcome than simply restoring the area to its recent 2019 pre-storm level, Zeldin said Monday in a news release.

“This is an urgent situation along Dune Road affecting our community’s small businesses and jobs, and I am encouraged that the Army Corps is doing everything in its power within federal law to respond quickly and effectively to this urgent matter,” Zeldin said in a statement.

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