A quarter-mile stretch of Dune Road between Tiana Beach in East Quogue and the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays was closed for about three hours last Thursday, August 14, due to severe flooding.
Aram Terchunian, a coastal geologist at the First Coastal Corporation in Westhampton Beach, said this week that the flooding marks the second time since the late spring that there has been an over wash along that section of Dune Road. An over wash occurs when water from the Atlantic breaches the protective dunes, crosses the highway and reaches the wetlands on the bayside—without reconnecting with the bay itself.
Additionally, large puddles of salt water—some 4 inches deep—dotted the stretch of Dune Road between Quogue Village and East Quogue, another section of the two-lane oceanfront highway that is prone to flooding at high tide. The closure created some traffic delays in the area.
“The first thing that needs to be done is an emergency dune restoration project,” said Mr. Terchunian, who added that he has been in contact with Southampton Town officials.
Specifically, he would like for the town to construct a berm, or a temporary dune, that would sit about five feet above the ground in order to keep the water from flowing onto Dune Road “every time there’s a full moon,” he said.
In late April, a similar situation occurred during a relatively minor storm.
Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said on Tuesday that he is trying to coordinate with Suffolk County, who he insists should share some of the burden of fixing the problem before it gets worse since Dune Road is an extension of the county’s highway system.
“We’re tired of digging out this road,” he said. “They know there’s a problem, but [county officials] are just trying to figure out how to handle it.”
Mr. Terchunian said he fears that the stretch of coastline between Tiana and Ponquogue beaches will continue to be prone to flooding as the natural dunes have been slow to rebound after Hurricane Sandy flattened them in 2012.
The town’s long-term plan is to eventually raise Dune Road by about 2 feet, though there has been a lack of federal funding to finance the estimated $7.8 million project.