Collier County explores making its beaches wider, taller
Collier County officials are exploring the possibility of expanding the county's beaches in an effort to make them more resilient to hurricanes and sea level rise.
County Manager Leo Ochs directed county beach managers in 2017 to look into making the beaches 50 feet wider and 1 foot taller. Bigger beaches are less susceptible to damage from high winds and storm surge, said Gary McAlpin, Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management director.
"History says that the more sand you have on the beach, (the more it) protects the structures behind it," he said.
The goal is to make the beaches resilient enough to withstand a 100-year storm, a measurement that refers to the estimated probability of a storm happening in any given year.
McAlpin said his department has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the feasibility of expanding the county's beaches.
“(The U.S. Army Corps) is going in there and doing the engineering and looking at the conditions to see if in fact this is a good project,” he said. "We've providing them data and they have a whole engineering team up in Norfolk (Virginia) that’s doing modeling related to this."
The Corps began studying the beaches in January and will discuss its results and recommendations with county leaders in January 2020.
A representative from the Corps directed all questions to McAlpin.
"If we’re successful with the Corps and they say yes, then we’ll enter into a cost agreement and project management agreement to lay out the specifics," McAlpin said. "Then they’ll be responsible for permitting the project."
However, the permitting process will take awhile, so it will likely be two or three years before any physical work starts, McAlpin said.