Dredging crews contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin massive sand replenishment projects, costing more than $21 million in federal dollars, in Hampton Bays and West Hampton Dunes in the coming months.
Work on the beaches stretching west from Shinnecock Inlet will begin almost as soon as the dredging barge Illinois completes a similar project in the eastern portion of Southampton Town. That project, paid for by homeowners of the area, is expected to wrap up in early January.
The company that operates the Illinois, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, has already been awarded the $6.9 million contract for the work, which calls for more than 500,000 tons of sand to be vacuumed from an offshore sandbar and pumped ashore onto the beaches stretching 1,000 yards west from the inlet. The area has suffered from chronic erosion for decades and was overtopped by towering waves during Superstorm Sandy, burying much of the commercial fishing businesses and restaurants at the eastern end of Dune Road under eight feet of sand.
The project specifications call for the creation of a 90-foot-wide beach and sloping, subsurface profile backed by a 15-foot-high dune. The work will restore the beach to the profile created in a similar 2005 effort, which the Army Corps credited, in light of the extensive damage seen there during Sandy, with saving the businesses in the area.
“The West of Shinnecock Inlet Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project is designed to reduce coastal storm risks on the barrier island, reducing potential risks to the integrity of the inlet and the navigational structures associated with it while also mitigating erosion west of the inlet,” a statement on the project by the Army Corps reads.
The Army Corps has also recently awarded Great Lakes a $14.2 million contract for replenishing beaches with more than 1.5 million tons of sand in West Hampton Dunes.
That project will restore beaches eroded during Sandy that were credited by local officials with having protected the narrow, barrier island village from the damage seen in other oceanfront communities in the town.
The West Hampton Dunes project is slated to begin in January or February. The Army Corps says a separate dredging vessel will be used for the work so the project will not have to wait until the Illinois is done with the Hampton Bays work.
The beaches in West Hampton Dunes were first rebuilt in and have been replenished on four occasions by the Army Corps since 1995, under a court order following disastrous erosion there that destroyed more than 100 homes. The court-ordered maintenance of the beaches runs for another decade, but residents of the village have already started organizing to privately fund beach nourishment projects into the foreseeable future, as residents in eastern reaches of the town have done.
Both western projects are being paid for out of the $700 million in federal funding from the Sandy aid package the Army Corps and New York State earmarked for projects restoring and bolstering the south shore of eastern Long Island.
In all, the Army Corps plans to place more than 26 million cubic yards, nearly 35 million tons, of sand on Northeast beaches, including the Jersey Shore, the Rockaways and Fire Island, to mend the damage wreaked by Sandy.