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US: Sand Key project will repair damage from Hurricane Hermine

Project Updates // February 13, 2017

The recently approved Pinellas County Shore Protection Project will repair damages sustained from Hurricane Hermine to the Sand Key Segment.

A recent study conducted by the Corps shows nearly 360,000 cubic yards of material eroded from the project’s design berm as a result of the storm. 

The Sand Key project is approved under the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act (Public Law 84-99), which authorizes activities for repair of federally authorized shore protection projects threatened or damaged by coastal storms. The project is set to begin this September and could last four months.

To complete the project, perpetual easements are required over the portions of property located along the shoreline and within the projected material placement areas. The easements will allow for construction activities necessary to build and maintain the beach and ensure these beach areas remains open to the public in perpetuity. The county is actively reaching out to property owners within affected areas to secure these easements.

“We understand there might be some hesitation from oceanfront property owners, but it’s important to remember that we are using federal, state, and county tax dollars, and the law says the beach must be open to the public, because essentially everyone paid for it,” said Project Manager Laurel Reichold.

“The top of the beach berm, or the highest height permitted for construction is 5.3ft. We aren’t authorized to build dunes out there, so there shouldn’t be any concern about oceanfront views being blocked.” Reichold said. “The faster we get the necessary easements, the faster we can start rebuilding the severely eroded beach.”

Beach nourishment benefits property owners and the public by providing increased storm protection, recreational opportunities, and restoration of critical habitat for shorebird and marine turtle nesting.

The Pinellas County Shore Protection Project totals 21.8 miles of shoreline. Three constructed and authorized segments are actively maintained by the federal government in a cost share agreement with Pinellas County. These segments include Sand Key, Treasure Island, and Long Key.

The federal government has invested nearly US$120 million in restorative beach erosion control measures, including beach renourishment and the construction of groins, to date.

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