The contractor conducting the construction of the sandbag revetment along the beachfront of downtown Montauk has told town officials that the project will now likely take longer to complete than originally forecast.
Representatives of H&L Contracting told town officials last week that the initial completion deadline of January 31 is no longer “realistic” because of delays caused by permitting hurdles with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and, to a certain extent, because of protests on the beach during the first two weeks of construction.
Alex Walter, executive assistant to East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, said this week that the contractors have told the town that they are now expecting a completion date closer to the middle of March, though that is still largely in question and dependent on other logistical considerations and, of course, winter weather.
Most of the delays, Mr. Walter said, have come because of the need to tweak some components of the original project plan once construction got under way. Mr. Walter said that, among other things, the design of the pedestrian walkways over the broad artificial dunes had to be modified.
The project got off to a somewhat delayed start. It was first pushed back by a week after a three-day nor’easter caused extensive erosion along the beachhead that is being fortified. Then the start of the physical construction work seemed to languish another two weeks, while attorneys for opponents of the project and for the Army Corps of Engineers argued in court over a restraining order request.
When the work finally got under way in early November, the sight of bulldozers plowing away portions of the natural dunes adjacent Kirk Park, at the western end of the 3,200-foot work zone, spurred a wave of protests on the beach. On most weekdays for about two weeks, small groups of protesters walked into the work zone and refused to leave until they were arrested by police, usually delaying the start of the contractors’ daily work by about an hour.
To date, the construction has completed only the digging of about two hundred feet of the trench, and filling it with a few dozen of the eventual 14,000 sandbags that will form the fortified dune.
The construction is to progress in 500-foot sections. A 20-foot-deep and 50-foot-wide trench will be filled with the sandbags, weighing some 3,000 pounds, and then covered with the sand excavated from the trench.