ARMY CORPS UPDATE 19 Jetties On The Way in 2020

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There’s still the matter of red tape.

Project manager Daniel Falt, of the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, addressed the Parks/Safety Committee of Community Board 14 at the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday evening to give an update on the Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project, which includes the installation of jetties/groins. The project, born after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, primarily entails beach protection measures from Beach 9th to Beach 149th. It does not cover other peninsula areas of vulnerability including much of the bayside and points west including Riis Park, Fort Tilden, and Breezy Point.

Falt noted it is a multi-agency effort including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, and the New York City Parks Department. The coordination, Falt said, will be crucial during the coming construction period which is expected to begin in the spring of 2020.

In addition to the installation of groins/jetties, Falt said funding is in place for the peninsula to get sand fill (replenishment) over the next fifty years and a dune system will be reinforced from Beach 9th to Beach 149th Street. 

The “erosion control” project is an ocean side endeavor and is the first step in an overall plan to enhance flood mitigation and protection for New York and other parts of the east coast. It is being done first because it is “relatively easier” than seawalls and other measures necessary on the bayside and beyond.

The design work has been underway for a year while the approval process goes on, which is “practically unheard of.” Falt said design usually must wait until all approvals are in place, so in bureaucratic terms, this project is moving quickly.

The groins/jetties have been re-arranged in the current plan. The existing groin at Beach 149th will be rebuilt and then new stone groins, about every five blocks, moving eastward, will be installed, until the existing jetties in Rockaway Beach. Existing groins, including those in Edgemere, will be extended to mitigate sand erosion.

Rock jetties are placed in specific ways to work most effectively. The stones weigh between five and 10  tons and are part of a “very sturdy design.” Falt said the groins will be constructed in a way to avoid “draft” which essentially robs the beach to the west or right side of such structures. 

There will be nineteen new or reconstructed jetties. A single jetty can take two months to complete. With the number of jetties, scheduling around piping plover nesting season, the length of the bid process and the uncertainties that follow, it will be about three years before Rockaway has a full field of rock jetties.

The current plan awaits final approval in Washington.  It was signed off by the Army Corps on August 22 and sent to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James, a civilian and political appointee, with a background in farming. By statute, he has 120 days to officially authorize, or not, so there remains some degree of doubt over the project and its construction phase. Falt said he expects the green light to happen in December.

A rep from the Mayor’s Office weighed in and suggested that locals contact elected officials to press the Assistant Secretary for quick approval.  (Senator Schumer can be reached at (202) 224-6542 or email through the U.S. Senate/ Schumer website; Congressman Gregory Meeks (202) 225-3461 or email through his Congressional webpage).

Falt said once the project is approved and the construction phase gets underway, there will be regular public meetings to keep residents up to date on schedules, truck routes (how the stones will likely be delivered) beach closures and other information.

Falt said that nearby Long Beach recently had a groin field installed with a fairly minimal amount of disruption and hopes the Rockaway project would be similar in its impact.

The plan and presentation will be available online. Check nan.usace.army.mil/ and search Rockaway on the site.

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