Army Corps Beach Construction Update
What’s the latest with the Army Corps’ work on the beach? The Rockaway Civic Association (RCA) recently received some updates from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and laid out what’s going on in their monthly newsletter.
According to the RCA newsletter, the recent sand replenishment has been completed with nearly two million cubic yards of sand placed from Beach 9th to Beach 149th.
What about the jetties? Groin construction along Beach 39th and Beach 42nd is almost complete. According to USACE project manager Michael Osebeck, starting March 21, they will have to suspend operations on the east end due to the piping plover season. Once the groins on Beach 39th and Beach 42nd are complete, or if March 21 approaches first, USACE will move to Beach 121st to continue construction on that groin, and will then work on Beach 125th and Beach 130th. Construction of those groins will begin in the spring and will continue throughout the summer. Twelve groins have been completed to date.
And the dunes? The new dunes will be a more permanent and stable storm barrier during major storms. They are being built with nearly two million cubic yards of sand, dredged from an offshore borrow area, that is placed on the beach while thirty-foot-long sections of steel sheet piles with interlocking edges are driven 14 feet into the ground to provide the foundation of the reinforced dune. Then the concrete cap is poured on top of the sheet materials using formwork. Geotextile fabric, core- and armor stones are placed in front of the sheet piles on the seaward side. After it’s buried by sand, 70 acres of plantings with sprawling root systems will be placed on top of the dunes anchoring the sand in place.
Currently, no section of the reinforced dune is 100% complete. The Army Corps made some progress with the dune from Beach 146th to Beach 143rd at about 85% completion, and dune reconstruction will continue to move east through 2023.
How will this affect the summer? USACE is currently working with Michels Corp. to define the summer schedule and location(s) of construction operations. Summer beach season closures will be necessary again.
In regard to some of those closures, Osebeck told the RCA, “Any beach closures will be directed and coordinated by NYC Parks, they make the final decision for beach closures. What I do know is that H&L contracting will be using Beach 116th as a staging area as they did last season.”
Rockaway Parks Administrator Eric Peterson added, “We are working closely with the Corps and their contractors to sort out what will be open for use this summer, and when. More to come on that soon. As Osebeck indicated, the staging area at Beach 116th will be active this summer, and work on the groins to the west, so that stretch will be closed to swimming. East of 115th should be back to ‘normal.’”
With this information, the RCA surmised that beach closures will impact Beach 116th through Beach 130th this summer.
The Civic says it will continue to work with the Parks Department and the Army Corps to lobby for clear signage along Beach 116th Street indicating beach access points and to open up as many beaches as possible this summer between Beach 116th and Beach 130th, with public safety remaining a priority. According to Peterson, there is a possibility of opening up areas for beach access along the west end after hours and on weekends to allow for fishing, walking and volleyball. Due to construction throughout the area, it is unlikely that any lifeguard chairs will be positioned in these active work areas. Consequently, No Swimming signs will likely be placed along this entire stretch (B116th-B130th) for the summer.