Navigation sediment management adds resiliency to Florida beach
Jacksonville, Fla. – Vilano Beach is receiving beach-compatible sand through the beneficial use of dredged material from navigation projects, helping to reduce vulnerabilities and improve coastal resiliency in a community north of the St. Augustine Inlet. A wider beach will help separate storm waves from upland structures and infrastructure.
The injection of much needed sand was made possible in a partnering between St. Johns County, the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District.
Sand placement at Vilano Beach requires beach closures for construction activities to help protect the public and construction workers. Pipeline discharge, bulldozers and other construction operations are anticipated to operate 24 hours daily in multiple locations.
Construction operations prohibits vehicular beach access at both Vilano Beach and Porpoise Point; however, emergency vehicles will have access to the beach as will pedestrian traffic in most areas. About 1,200 feet of the beach will close to the public at a time as work continues along the beach. Pedestrian cross-overs are built over the pipeline so the public can access the shoreline outside the active construction area.
Residents adjacent to the area may experience noise that is incidental to construction such as back-up alarms and engine noise. Please note that bulldozer back-up alarms in the construction area cannot be turned off. The alarms are a safety device required by federal law to protect people from getting hit by machinery when the driver is unable to see directly behind the equipment.
“We ask the public to have patience with the temporary construction and to use caution in the work areas at all times,” said Project Manager Lacy Pfaff. Construction began April 1 and is scheduled to end before the start of hurricane season, June 1.
Following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, FIND and St. Johns County requested that the Corps consider revising their primary placement area at Anastasia State Park, south of the St. Augustine Inlet, and change the placement to the beach in front of damaged properties in Vilano Beach. The Corps agreed to consider the change and after a few months of planning work, is now placing material on a strip of Vilano Beach that could be up to 5,000-feet, north of the St. Augustine Inlet.
Hurricane Matthew also produced some shoaling in the St. Augustine Inlet, itself, which is a Federal navigation project. The Corps determined that about 70,000 cubic yards of sand had shoaled in the inlet and looked to beneficially use it. If the Corps is able to include this material in the current contract, it will extend beach placement further north in Vilano Beach.
“In total, the project could place about 250,000 cubic yards of sand in these damaged areas,” Pfaff said. “The team anticipates about 180,000 cubic yards from the IWW and 70,000 cubic yards from the navigation inlet.”
This authorized project is necessary to allow navigation in the federal waterways and has a secondary benefit of beach placement. That’s regional sediment management at its best, Pfaff said. FIND is funding the modification to place the material where it’s needed in Vilano Beach at no additional cost to St. Johns County residents. St. Johns County completed the structural survey inventory for the homes and worked to get temporary construction easements. Those items were critical to commencing the project.
“It’s a win-win project,” Pfaff said. “It was a team effort to pull this together and beneficially use the dredged material on the eroded beach.”
“I’d like to thank all the folks involved in this effort, the Corps, St. Johns County, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the other regulatory agencies that recognized the need for a project modification that resulted in added benefits to the community,” said Mark Crosley, Executive Director of FIND.
The purpose of the original contract was to provide maintenance dredging of shoal material from the Intracoastal Waterway (IWW). Dredging included the northern area of the IWW in St. Johns County, and flood shoal advanced maintenance. Excavated material from this area was originally planned for a placement at Anastasia State Park, south of St. Augustine Inlet.