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Army Corps of Engineers begins sand pumping at Rockaway Beach, restoring coastline severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Published May 1, 2014

NEW YORK – Crews working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, began placing nearly 3 million cubic yards of sand onto Rockaway Beach in recent weeks as part of the second of two major sand placement contracts to repair and restore the engineered beach there to reduce coastal storm risks to the community there, which was left even more vulnerable to coastal storms after Hurricane Sandy.

The work, being done through a $26.4 million contract funded by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-2, often referred to as the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill), is being done in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Public Law 113-2 also authorizes the Corps of Engineers to carry out the work at Rockaway. Additional funding is being provided by the City of New York to raise the height of the beach berm and provide access ramps over the berm.

“We’re very pleased to see sand pumping begin on this vital project for Rockaway Beach and area residents,” said New York District Commander Col. Paul Owen. “We’re working closely with our partners in the state of New York and New York City to carry out this important job, providing enhanced coastal-storm risk reduction for the community while also restoring popular beaches that have attracted large crowds for generations.”

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the US Army Corps of Engineers was a dedicated partner, pulling debris from our shorelines and bringing 600,000 cubic yards of sand to bolster eroded sections of Rockaway Beach. With this additional 2.9 million cubic yards of sand, the beach will be improved to a condition that we have not seen in decades,” said NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “I am proud to again work with the Corps to make sure that New York City is better protected from future storms." 

The project, spanning approximately 6.2 miles from Beach 19th to Beach 149th street, will be completed in three sections and involve the placement of roughly 2.9 million cubic yards of sand dredged from a nearby offshore borrow area. Sand is now being placed from Beach 116th to Beach 81st Street. After that is finished, work will begin from Beach 116th to Beach 149th Street. The last phase, Beach 19th to Beach 81st Street will be completed last to respect existing environmental windows.

When complete, the wide, flat elevated beach berm will be at least 100 feet wide and 10 feet above sea level (with higher elevations more landward) throughout the project area, which will restore original dimensions potentially not seen in some areas of the project since the 1970s. The berm will help reduce wave and inundation impacts to the community during coastal storms.

During reconstruction, there will be rolling closures of 1000-foot sections where work is active. Working closely with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, only one section of beach will be closed at any one time. After an area is complete, that larger restored section will then be re-opened to the public as crews continue working along the beach. The Corps of Engineers is making every effort to limit impacts on recreation without compromising public safety.

This contract is the Corps’ second post-Sandy sand placement contract for Rockaway, with the first one completed last summer and fall, placing roughly 600,000 cubic yards of sand in some of the most severely eroded section of the project area. That work included sand placement from Beach 89th to Beach 149th. Additional sand will be placed in these areas through this second contract as well, which will restore the entire project area to its full original design. Through both contracts, the Corps will have placed roughly 3.5 million cubic yards of sand along Rockaway to restore the beach and reinforce the buffer it provides to communities against coastal storms.

The work at Rockaway Beach is part of a larger U.S. Army Corps of Engineers effort throughout the northeastern United States to place nearly 27 million cubic yards of sand to restore coastal storm risk reduction projects impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Nearly 8 million cubic yards of that represents sand placement at coastal storm risk reduction projects in the state of New York, including at Coney Island and at project sites along the south shore of Long Island.

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Chris Gardner
James D'Ambrosio

Release no. 14-009