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Palm Coast Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 1 year ago

County considers emergency dune project to protect beachfront areas

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The $20 million proposed project would rely on grant money from the state and from federal agencies.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Federal agencies aren’t stepping in to save Flagler Beach’s eroded beach through beach renourishment led by the Army Corps of Engineers. Nor has the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided money to repair coastal damage from Hurricane Matthew.

The county is trying to get their aid — “What we were begging them for is help to get out dune projects going,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said — but in the absence of help from FEMA and the Corps of Engineers, Flagler Beach and the county should look to state agencies for assistance, Coffey told county and Flagler Beach city commissioners at a joint meeting Aug. 7.

That might mean getting the Florida Department of Transportation’s support to add emergency dunes, Coffey said.

These proposed dunes wouldn’t be built entirely of sand: Instead, there would be a rock base covered with coquina sand until the rock is hidden. “The goal would be to never see the rock again, or whatever’s below it,” Coffey said.

Adding such dunes along 6.25 miles of coastline would coast about $20 million, Coffey said, and the county doesn’t have the funding secured. But it may be able to get grant money for the project from the state Department of Transportation — which has an interest in protecting State Road A1A — and some additional support from the Corps of Engineers.

The project would replace the Corps of Engineers’ proposed beach renourishment project, which has been in the planning process for about 12 years but has never been funded.

Like the long-planned renourishment project, the emergency dune project would involve dredging sand from borrow pits about seven miles offshore. It would take a couple of years to design, and would start construction in 2019.

In the meantime, the county is vulnerable to potential storms, and monetary and bureaucratic hurdles are keeping officials from adding sand to the beach as a temporary measure.

The county might get approval to build thinner dunes called “berms” along an approximately three-mile section of Flagler Beach, Coffey said, at a cost of about $5.46 million overall, with a $1.365 million local match.

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