Army Corps Completes Coastal Project Ahead of Schedule; Engages Community

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, recently completed placing 500,000 cubic yards of sand along 4,100 feet of coastline in Downtown Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island in New York’s Suffolk County. With favorable weather conditions allowing for completion ahead of schedule, the $11.7 million project also refurbished dunes eroded by a series of storms.

It’s just one aspect of the $2.4 billion Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Coastal Storm Risk Management Project reducing flood risk to low-lying communities along 83 miles of coastline rom  Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point, include mainland Long Island’s south shore.

Site Visit

A recent site visit saw a bustling construction site with bulldozers moving sand into place as it poured from a nearby pipe connected to a dredge 2000 feet off-shore in the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to contractor’ personnel, Army Corps engineers were frequently on site overseeing the work to make sure the project was being constructed properly and to specification.

A mixture of sand and water pours from a pipe onshore as a bulldozer positions the sand into place. USACE PHOTO

New York District Commander Col. Alexander Young stated: “We’re very pleased with the work in Downtown Montauk. Residents now have a wider, more resilient shoreline reducing flood risk to homes, businesses and infrastructure in the community ─ many located just a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean.”

Series of Storms

While the project had been planned for several years, it took on greater significance when a series of powerful winter storms further eroded the project area. (Additional sand was placed to fill in newly-eroded areas.)

Heavy equipment moves a section of pipe along the beach. USACE PHOTO

In 2016, the New York District completed an interim project placing sand in Downtown Montauk under a different contract until FIMP was underway ─ a 100 percent federally-funded project through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-2) providing resources to restore areas of the New York and New Jersey shoreline damaged after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Storm History

Historically, Montauk, which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, has been pounded by hurricanes and nor’easters traveling up the East Coast of the U.S. In fact, the ‘Great Hurricane of 1938’ completely devastated Montauk’s fishing village; after which Downtown Montauk was relocated a mile south to its current position. Eighty-five years ago there were no weather satellites/technology tracking storms, just reports from ships at sea (sometimes ignored). As a result, residents had just a few hours warning, when reports of storm conditions in Atlantic City, New Jersey ─ 200 miles to the south ─ came in.

Heavy equipment moves sand into place to fit the design profile of the beach. USACE PHOTO
Public Engagement

Several months prior to construction, a local school district reached out to the New York District seeking community involvement.

Jody Kennedy, a recently-retired digital arts teacher in New York volunteering for The Montauk School ─ a K-8 public institution where students were writing and creating a video about the project ─ requested the Army Corps visit the school. New York’s Public Affairs Office responded, delivering an interactive presentation in early March to 100+ students, teachers and administrators just as the project was concluding.

Kennedy noted: “The Army Corps program was really great. The kids were engaged throughout and learned a great deal about how sand is dredged and placed on the shoreline. It was a 360-degree win: Good for the kids, good for the school, good for the community, and good for the Army Corps of Engineers.”

After sand placement, Downtown Montauk has a wider, more resilient shoreline that will reduce flood risk from severe storms and tidal surges to people, homes and infrastructure. USACE PHOTO

Kay Tyler, executive director of Concerned Citizens of Montauk, a nonprofit working to protect the unique environment and ecology of the local area whose children also attend the school, commented: “This project [Downtown Montauk] is critical to buying us more time to find a more permanent solution for our Hamlet by restoring our coastline and reducing flood risk to many essential local businesses in Downtown Montauk. We’re thankful that the Army Corps of Engineers has provided us a greater measure of protection from more frequent and increasingly severe storms with higher tidal surges that impact Montauk every year.”

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