MANATEE COUNTY, FL (CW44 News At 10) – If you’ve been to Anna Maria Island lately, you may have noticed something besides the sound of waves hitting the sand.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is leading a $17 million shore protection project along the coastline in Manatee County. With federal and state funding, they’re working with the county to help preserve and maintain the coastal environment prior to potential hurricane damage.
CW44’s Andrea Alvarez had an opportunity to speak with David Ruderman, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District about the project. “This project basically is a federal response thinking ahead to maintain the shoreline and the navigable waters of the United States, it’s basically to preserve the coastal environment and to reduce the damage that we know hurricanes and storms will do in the future. We cannot know in advance where a hurricane is going to land, however we understand what the most vulnerable sections of the coastline are.”
A contractor for the group began beach renourishment this month, restocking more than 5 miles of beach along Anna Maria Island. “We’ve got a very confident crew out there now. They were going to dredge sand from a designated offshore borrow area, goes through pipes down the length of the beach, pump it onto the beach, and then they shape it,” said Ruderman. “They’re doing like 300, 400, 500 feet of beach a day. They’re going to be operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
With construction set to wrap up in November, Ruderman says crews are working to make sure the new construction doesn’t cause disruption.
“The actual construction area will be fenced off. There will be a walkway, an area where people can move along north, south. Folks will be able to cross over that pipe that runs down the beach, it’ll be covered with sand ramps,” said Ruderman
And to be sure Florida’s coastline remains sturdy and maintained, they plan to continue with the project in the future.
“This is the second iteration. The corps will come back in three years, five years, seven years and do it again, depending upon the conditions of the beach depending on what’s happened in the meantime,” said Ruderman “We have a national interest in protecting this environment for the folks who live there and for the economy at stake.”
The corps is doing another similar project just up the coast at Lido Key, and another with Pinellas county based on assessed risk while also searching for a sponsor. Stick with CW44 News for updates.