Army Corps Begins Dredging Process for Sand Replenishment


Believe it or not, work has begun to dredge the East Rockaway Inlet for sand that will be used to replenish the heavily eroded area of Beach 92nd to Beach 103rd Street, which was closed to beachgoers last summer. With the work beginning early this month, the replenishment is expected to be complete before June 1, in time for the prime of the beach season.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Mayor de Blasio today announced that a USACE contractor, Weeks Marine, headquartered in Cranford, N.J., has begun moving work vessels, pipe, and other equipment to perform maintenance dredging in the Inlet. This week, the submersible pipes are being installed in the ocean from East Rockaway Inlet west to Beach 87th Street, where the pipeline will come out of the ocean and onto the beach at Beach 88th Street, east of the most western groin. Additional pipes and bulldozers, wheel loaders and work sheds also began to arrive at the staging area between Beach 109th and 110th Streets this week.

“It’s happening! Equipment is on the move, and work is starting that will restore the previously closed stretch of Rockaway Beach in time for summer,” Mayor de Blasio said in a press release.

USACE is expected to begin dredging operations the week of April 8, with a goal of completing the project before June 1, the first day of hurricane season. The beach will be replenished with approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sand.

How will this impact the surrounding beaches? During the project, the beach will be closed from Beach 88th to Beach 110th to allow for equipment staging and a safe perimeter. Signs have already started to go up at nearby boardwalk beach entrances, telling people to use alternative beach entrances to access the beach. Surfers will have to use an alternative surf spot as the project is ongoing. The surf area from Beach 87th to Beach 91st will be closed. Surfers are advised to use the surging beaches at Beach 69th or Beach 11th instead. The complete boardwalk will remain open.

But what about the jetties? They’re still part of the future plan. The New York District is now in the process of receiving the final approvals from USACE headquarters for the Rockaway & Jamaica Bay Reevaluation Report, which will authorize the construction, at 100% Federal cost, of new erosion control features (such as "jetties" or groins), additional beach fill and reinforced dunes, as well as flood risk reduction features on both the Atlantic and bayside shoreline of the Rockaway peninsula. The plan, which is expected to begin by the end of the year or early 2020, will include an increased beach berm with 1.6m cubic yards of sand for initial placement, the extension of five groins already in place and the construction of 13 new groins.

“The resources that we are investing now will go a long way towards making beach season in the Rockaways better than ever,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, who helped acquire some of the funding for the sand replenishment. “I will continue pushing the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize this project for our neighbors in southern Queens and the countless New Yorkers who visit and enjoy these beautiful beaches every year.”