Tarpon Springs project protects infrastructure, hurricane evacuation route

Published April 1, 2014
Now that the project is completed, shorelines and adjacent roadways are protected. The evacuation area and homes are protected from the bayous.

Now that the project is completed, shorelines and adjacent roadways are protected. The evacuation area and homes are protected from the bayous.

Fifteen years after its initial start and nearly 10 years after the execution of the Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement (FCSA) with the city of Tarpon Springs, Jacksonville District completed construction on the Whitcomb and Kreamer Bayous Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project. The project, located in Tarpon Springs, is a Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) Section 103 Hurricane and Storm Damage Protection Project.

CAP authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plan, design and construct small-scale projects under existing program authority from Congress. Local governments and agencies seeking assistance may request the Corps to investigate potential water resource issues that may fit a particular authority. Section 103 of CAP allows the Corps to assist in the protection of public infrastructure on small beaches against erosion and damages caused by natural, storm- driven waves and currents.

Typical projects include protecting utilities, roadways and other public infrastructure systems. The maximum federal limit is $5 million per project.

When the project’s FCSA was executed in 2004, Jim Suggs served as project manager, followed by Emilio Gonzalez in 2005. Suggs resumed project manager duties in 2011. He said the project has been around for some time and many people worked hard to make it happen.

Suggs said the completion of the project came with challenges. Section 103, he said, was one of the authorities not supported by the administration. “I had to fight for the project,” he said. “We had a really good sponsor who was patient throughout all of our struggles.”

Prior to the project’s implementation and completion, the area experienced erosion of the bayou banks, which threatened the city- and county-maintained roadways. Portions of the roadways were subject to frequent flooding due to low elevation construction. The roads provided the only emergency evacuation route for some residents.

The completed project stabilized the shoreline and protects the adjacent roadways. “It keeps the hurricane evacuation area and homes from going into the bayous,” Suggs said.

Although not one of the district’s popular, “big dollar” projects, Suggs says this project is just as important. “We fulfilled our obligation to our sponsor from design to construction. We put forth the same effort as with big projects. To the customer, it’s just as important. Recent conversations with the city [Tarpon Springs] officials proved they are satisfied with our work and appreciated our efforts.”

Suggs said all of the team members on the project delivery team (PDT) played a significant role in the completion of this project. “Without them, it wouldn’t have happened. I am very proud to be a part of this PDT,” he said.