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Posted 2/26/2015

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By James D'Ambrosio
USACE New York District

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, many areas of the New York and New Jersey coastline suffered severe erosion, leaving scores of coastal communities vulnerable to future storms and flooding. But a great deal of work by the Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, in conjunction with federal, state and local sponsors, has restored many of the most severely damaged areas.

The completion of the Westhampton Beach Interim Project in late 2014, a spin-off of the larger Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) initiative, is designed to reduce risks from storm damage while a study evaluating storm-damage reduction plans is completed, which may include additional work in the project area. It also marks the District’s final coastal-storm risk reduction project, providing reduced flood risk from major storms to Westhampton Beach and mainland communities north of Moriches Bay. Work on the nearly four-mile stretch from Westhampton Beach to Cupsogue Beach County Park included restoring berms and dunes, tapering existing groins, and constructing an intermediate groin. Sand was placed within existing groin compartments to build up beaches and encourage sand transport. During Sandy, this previously-constructed project performed well, significantly reducing flooding and damage to homes, businesses and critical infrastructure — as originally designed.

Nearly 1 million cubic yards of sand was placed through a $15.2 million contract with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Oak Brook, Ill. Work began mid-November 2014 and was complete by late 2014. The initiative was fully funded through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (PL 113-2), authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to restore areas severely damaged by Sandy to their original design profile, often resulting in a wider beach than previously existed prior to Sandy.  

Coastal and environmental monitoring will continue each year within the project area, including periodic nourishment to ensure integrity of the project design for up to 30 years. Since inception in 1997, the project has exceeded performance expectations in terms of cost, reduced flood risk, and beneficial environmental impact. The area received renourishment in 2001, 2004 and 2009.

All told, two years’ work placed a total of 17 million cubic yards of sand along stretches of the New York and New Jersey coast. With near-term projects complete, the District is now focusing on previously-unconstructed coastal projects and completing studies developing new storm-risk initiatives.