Nature struck powerful blows against Florida in 2012 with storm-force winds, rain and large swells causing more than $68 billion in damages and brought a record amount of beach restoration work to Jacksonville District. The work resulted in constructing 22 projects and in 2014 teams ensured more than 38.5 miles of critically eroded beaches in Florida received sand to protect upland structures.
According to coastal team members, their work couldn’t have been possible without the successful partnerships and collaborative relationships established over the years with local sponsors, federal and state entities, coastal engineering firms, and more.
The team learned a lot, including flexible start and end dates work best on almost all emergency projects. Due to the sheer number of projects and concerns with dredge availability, Coastal/Navigation section chief Jackie Keiser said the teams collaborated with industry and allowed flexible dates, where possible, so they could move their dredges most efficiently. This resulted not only in the timely award of each project, but in the majority of bids coming in below the government estimate.
“The flexible start and end dates were a huge benefit to the storm response program and the right thing to do. Working with industry, we hope to continue this concept with minor changes to gain efficiencies while reducing risk,” she said.
To help Florida’s projects compete with the northeast for scarce dredges, the coastal team also combined projects to make them larger and more attractive to industry. Keiser said this resulted in savings of millions in mobilization costs for the sponsors and the district; a win-win savings of at least $20 million to the program.
Brevard County had two projects constructed there, which were the largest in terms of quantity and cost. About 1.65 million cubic yards of sand was placed across 13.9 miles of beach. This was huge for both the county and the district, and it paid off high dividends. The projects not only protect infrastructure, but also help the local tourist economy. The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association named one the projects the winner of its 2014 Best Restored Beach Award.
Jacksonville District leads the nation, by far, in the placement of navigation sediment on beaches.
“Emergency placement adds considerable challenge to the already daunting task,” said Col. Alan Dodd, Jacksonville District commander. “We know that we must execute supplemental navigation projects with an even greater sense of urgency due to the immediate potential impacts to life safety, the economics associated with our ports, and in some cases – national security.” For these reasons, it’s commonly accepted that emergency navigation sediments are disposed of in the quickest and easiest manner possible, typically offshore. But Jacksonville District isn’t typical.
The district received emergency supplemental funding for nine east coast ports following Hurricane Sandy. And, on all but one of them, the District was able to capture the sand and use it for shoreline protection.
“This is not just our commitment to preserving the resource – this is also an incredible value provided to the nation. We placed approximately 1 million cubic yards of sand on Florida’s beaches as a result of this commitment,” Dodd said. Based on typical contract costs for these beaches, this is a value of $28 million at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
Keiser said it wouldn’t have been possible, especially under the timelines, without years of commitment with partners and agencies towards the goal of managing sediments regionally. “I couldn’t be more proud of the result, and I think we can say that we raised the bar for the rest of the nation,” she said.
The Coastal/Navigation section will likely take on a new project soon. The Civil Works Review Board unanimously approved the Flagler County Shore Protection project in 2014. This much needed project will protect the A1A evacuation route and the infrastructure of Flagler County, while also providing an improved environment for important species and contributing to improved recreation-related economic benefits.
While these teams were busy constructing all the rehabilitation projects, they also had their typical program of more than 30 projects to look after in the Water Resources branch.