DESCRIPTION: The project study area includes the Rockaway Peninsula and the communities surrounding Jamaica Bay in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn in New York City. The original Rockaway Beach project was authorized by Congress as a 100-200-foot-wide beach at an elevation of 10 feet above Mean Low Water from Beach 149th Street to Beach 19th Street, approximately 6.2 miles.
From 1977 until 2004, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) designed, constructed and maintained the project. Because of the high cost of the construction and continued nourishment and the continued challenge of the eroding shoreline, USACE was directed to “reformulate” the original plan, with the objective of finding a long term, cost-effective solution to the effects of continued erosion on the Rockaway peninsula.
After Hurricane Sandy, USACE expanded its efforts studying coastal storm risk management alternatives beyond the Atlantic Coast of the Rockaway Peninsula to include vulnerable communities surrounding Jamaica Bay that were also significantly impacted by the storm. As the storm proved, and further study and modeling confirmed, these two study areas act as a system and are being evaluated together as one system.
AUTHORIZATION: The constructed project at Rockaway Beach was originally authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1965 and modified by the Water Resources Development Act of 1974 which provided for initial construction and periodic nourishment for a 10-year period.
- The initial beach replenishment was completed through 5 construction contracts in 1977.
- Severe storms during 1977 and 1978 seriously eroded the beach and emergency repairs were made in 1978 and 1979 to the affected areas. Periodic nourishment was accomplished from 1980 to 1988.
- Further erosion from storms led to a second major construction effort after being authorized through Section 934 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, allowing continued Federal participation in periodic beach fill nourishment. Under this authority, a reevaluation report was approved in May 1994 and prescribed three additional nourishment cycles occurring three years apart.
- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) supported the reevaluation report’s recommendations and signed the Project Cooperation Agreement to cost-share construction of the project in May 1995.
- USACE was directed to commence a Reformulation Study and signed a Design Agreement with the NYSDEC in 2003. The Study would consider long-term protection for the project area.
- The study was delayed over the years due to variable Federal funding since the agreement was signed in 2003. Following the passage of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, the study was fully federally funded.
STATUS: Preliminary alternative and existing conditions were developed for the Atlantic Coast of the study area by 2011 but required significant revision after the Sandy storm.
The study was expanded after Sandy to also assess coastal storm risk management opportunities in the Jamaica Bay area, as it relates to the Rockaway peninsula and the present system. USACE released the Draft Reformulation report to the public detailing the recommended flood risk reduction system in July 2016 and followed with series of public meetings for the solicitation of public input. Portions of the study that were not implementable under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 were deferred for additional study.
- A revised Draft report and Final Report was drafted in 2018 that included all implementable elements and is currently under review for final project approval.
- The recommended plan includes beach fill with a reinforced dune, new and rehabilitated groins, and high frequency flood risk reduction features for portions of the bay side of the Rockaway peninsula.
- The Chief’s Report was approved on August 22, 2019. The first of several construction contracts for this project was awarded in April 2020, for the construction of stone groins on the Atlantic shoreline.
Daniel T. Falt
P: (917) 790-8614
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
Programs and Project Management Division
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: NY-05, NY-08