If you were out at Rockaway Beach this weekend you may have heard the dulcet sounds of bulldozers and their incessant backup beepers accenting the rhythms of the surf and the seagulls. The machines were hard at work all weekend pushing around the sand on a stretch of beach from about Beach 85th Street to Beach 95th Street. Why, you may have wondered, was this section of beach taken over by gigantic noise polluters? And when ever will it end?
The work is being done by the Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate the beach from heavy damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy. 1,000-foot sections of beach between Beach 81st Street and Beach 116th Street are being closed on a rolling basis as the $26.4 million project, funded by the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill, continues. 2.9 million cubic yards of sand are being pumped into the beach from the ocean floor at "an off-shore borrow area." (That's what those big pipes are for.)
According to the Army Corps of Engineers:
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.
According to a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, the work is happening 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spokesman James D'Ambrosio tells us the section of beach between Beach 81st Street and Beach 116th Street should be completely done by the end of the week, weather permitting. ("If the seas get too rough they have to shut down," D'Ambrosio explained.) The stretch of beach between Beach 116th Street and Beach 140th Street is also "almost done," but D'Ambrosio could not get a specific completion estimate.
The last section of beach to get the sand infusion is between Beach 19th and Beach 81st Street. This part won't be rehabilitated until October because of the endangered piping plover, which has nesting grounds on the beach. The birds nest between April and October, so the Army Corps of Engineers is waiting to bring the sand to that beach section until after they've fledged.
Meanwhile, work rebuilding sections of the obliterated Rockaway boardwalk continues... through at least 2017.