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Final design for erosion project nearly complete

By Staff | Jul 2, 2019

James Evans

As of last week, the city of Sanibel was in the process of finalizing the extent and details of the emergency shore protection project located south of Blind Pass, adjacent to Sanibel-Captiva Road.

On June 26, Natural Resources Director James Evans reported that staff and Humiston & Moore Engineers had met at the location several weeks ago to examine the site. The Sanibel City Council had approved contracting with the coastal engineering firm on the project’s design at its May meeting.

“We’re finalizing the dune restoration and fill template,” he said of the project last week.

Earlier this year, the city had brought in the firm to look at the area near Pine Avenue and Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages and come up with some concepts to better protect the nearby road and properties from erosion. At the council’s meeting in May, Humiston & Moore reported the following:

“Recent storms and cold fronts in 2018 and 2019 have resulted in increased sand loss and vulnerability,” the firm stated in documents. “It is the intent of the city to design improved protection along this section of roadway and extend the protection further north and south of the existing buried (rock) revetment to provide high frequency storm protection to the most vulnerable 400-foot section of the evacuation route for the island of Captiva and the north end of Sanibel.”

PHOTO PROVIDED The conceptual plan for the project submitted in May by Humiston & Moore Engineers.

“The concept plan involves the addition of a larger armor stone layer along the existing buried revetment and installation of a steel sheetpile wall with a concrete cap upland of the revetment, along the edge of the right-of-way, for the approximate 400-foot section of vulnerable roadway,” it continued. “Additional rock will be included for toe-scour protection north and south of the existing revetment seaward of the new wall and tapering of the rock further landward.”

Evans noted that the project will include dune restoration on two properties to the north.

“Because it extends up that way,” he said, adding that staff and Humiston & Moore have meet with owners in the area. “We have to get some agreement letters from the adjacent property owners.”

In addition, they have been working with the Lee County Department of Transportation.

“It’s a county road,” Evans said.

“We’re making sure we cross our T’s and dot our I’s,” he added.

For the last few weeks, staff and the firm had been working to finalize the design.

“What that’s going to allow us to do is define what’s going to be included in the project costs,” Evans said, noting that the information is also submitted to the state agencies for the permit applications.

There have been some preliminary pre-application meetings with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which appeared to be positive.

“They seemed supportive of the project,” he said. “And they understand the sense of urgency with the project – that it is a roadway and main evacuation route for Captiva and Sanibel.”

Evans noted that the push was to get it done by the week’s end and submit the applications.

As for next steps, he explained that the city will likely put the project out to bid as soon it knows that the permits are coming through. A proposed contract will then be brought before the Sanibel City Council for approval and if approved, the work can begin.

“We’ll be looking for outside funding sources,” Evans said, citing the Lee County Tourist Development Council’s beach and shoreline program as one source being considered.

As for the site itself, the erosion situation has improved a little.

“We have seen some additional accretion there, which is good,” he said.

The beach accumulates sand in the summer and loses it in the winter because of the wind direction. If the project is finished before winter, sand can accumulate on top of the new sand the city deposits.

“We’re still aiming to get it done before the strong cold fronts come through,” Evans said.

The city is hoping to start construction in November.

“We want to hit the ground running as soon as sea turtle nesting season is over,” he said, noting that nesting season ends on Oct. 31. “But everything is dependent on when we receive the permits.”