Montauk beach erosion surfaces sooner as sandbags relent to rising sea levels

A hamlet study backs a recommendation to enact a "strategic retreat" of downtown businesses inland to combat the threat, but East Hampton Town is mulling a $15 million to $17 million beach restoration project.

Buried sandbags meant to defend Montauk’s downtown from the Atlantic Ocean have been clearly visible on the beach since late summer, an earlier start to seasonal erosion that underscores the need for a more permanent solution to stabilize the shoreline.

The first glimpse of the bags — part of an artificial dune installed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an erosion control project in 2015 — was in mid-August and again around Labor Day. Three months later, the exposure had visibly  moved inland about 10 feet and widened across the beach, making the area impassable unless one were to walk across the sandbags or through the water. In some sections, the front half of the dune has caved into the ocean, exposing a wall of orangish, quarried sand placed there by East Hampton Town last spring, although the dune has held up in other areas.

The sandbags were previously exposed, but before winter nor’easters hit the region. The town spent nearly $1 million to cover the artificial dunes in the spring as required under its agreement with the Army Corps, and probably must take on a similar project in 2019.

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