Gulf of Mexico
Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Florida: Beach erosion project in design phase

The city of Sanibel anticipates having the design plans in the next week or so for a project aimed at addressing beach erosion on the northern end of the island, adjacent to Sanibel-Captiva Road.

Earlier this year, the city hired the coastal engineering firm Humiston & Moore Engineers, out of Naples, to examine the area near Pine Avenue and Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages and to develop possible options, like beach renourishment or additional shoreline stabilization, to solve the issue.

On April 18, Natural Resources Director James Evans reported that the survey data had been completed. The firm is now using the information to design the dimensions and placement of the new riprap revetment - rock structure - and to determine the extent of the new sand placement.

"That will essentially be the project," he said.

Evans noted that city staff hope to have the design in the next couple weeks.

"The goal of the project is to protect the roadway and public infrastructure, but also to protect the adjacent properties - the private properties - there," he said.

Evans added that the aim is to place sand on top of and in front of the riprap.

"The goal is to cover that structure, so the shoreline is soft not hard," he said.

There will also be a restoration component, including new vegetation and plantings.

The improvements will help the city determine when to revisit the area in the future.

"We're also using that structure as a trigger for when we do beach renourishment," Evans said, explaining that once the rocks are exposed, they know to place sand before it is a bigger problem.

Sanibel identifies and tracks erosional hot spots on the island with annual surveys, and the area has been on the city's radar. It received renourishment in the past in conjunction with projects for Captiva.

However, the continually worsening erosion has been attributed to the beach never fully recovering after Hurricane Irma, followed by last season and the late storms. The beaches naturally accumulate sand in the summer and lose sand in the winter because of the direction of the wind. When there are late-summer storms, the sand is lost not acquired, so the beach heads into winter with a sand deficit.

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