By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(Monday, November 1, 2016) – With the near miss of Hurricane Matthew on October 6th the City was fortunate in many ways. Notably, in the minimal amount of precious sand that was lost from our beach. Coincidentally, the City just recently received an update on the long awaited beach re-nourishment project by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Miami Dade County.
I am happy to report that the USACE, in conjunction with the State of Florida and Miami-Dade County, have informed us that the project has the necessary funding to go forward in the next calendar year. Our beach is one of the highest priorities in Southeast Florida, second only to Miami Beach, for federal beach re-nourishment assistance. Miami Beach is currently undergoing a re-nourishment from USACE and their project is well underway with expected completion early next year.
Based upon the experience in Miami Beach, the USACE will manage the project and will start with the preparation of the bid documents for the letting of a contract to haul sand onto our beach from other parts of the State. Most likely the sand will come from mines in the middle of Florida. The bid package will then be publicly advertised by USACE in March of 2017, with a contract award to the successful contractor by the end of May. Once the award is made, there are still technical aspects of the process and permitting requirements to be fulfilled. Staging areas need to be determined, access points for the trucks bringing the sand onto the beach at strategic points need to be identified. All of this requires the input and cooperation of several agencies led by the USACE. The actual placement of sand is expected to commence on or about September of 2017 with a completion date in early 2018. This schedule is clearly subject to change depending on the methods of obtaining the sand, transporting it to Sunny Isles Beach, and weather factors over the next 18 months.
The City, with the assistance of the USACE, is working on two additional projects which will further mitigate the erosion of sand from our beach. First, the existing breakwater structures, offshore at the north end of our City, were recently inspected by divers and found to be in need of rehabilitation. The other project is the placement of structures under the City owned Newport Fishing Pier. The new Pier with its concrete cast piles, left much wider unobstructed openings for water and sand to flow south. This new dynamic has exacerbated beach erosion in the immediate vicinity of the Pier. These structures will certainly help stabilize the sand in that area.
When the re-nourishment project is completed, the result will be over 260,000 cubic yards of sand being placed on our beach over the next calendar year. This will represent the second largest beach re-nourishment in our City’s history. The first project was in 2001. We are very thankful for the support of our elected officials at the County and State level, and for the cooperation of the County staff and the Army Corps of Engineers, without whom this project would never happen.