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Plantings completed at San-Cap Road project

By Staff | Aug 4, 2020

Director James Evans

With the new vegetation finished for the emergency shore protection project on Sanibel-Captiva Road near Blind Pass, city officials recently reported a loss of some sand and plants due to recent storms.

Natural Resources Director James Evans explained that the new plantings were in by mid-July.

“We did get all of the plants installed,” he said on July 30. “And we did install the rope and bollards system (to protect the dune), as well as some signage to keep people out of the dune plantings.”

Shortly afterward, however, there were some storm events with strong winds and wave action.

“We did lose roughly one-quarter to one-third of the sand and one-quarter of the plants in the center portion of the project area,” Evans said, adding that most of the new vegetation was installed on the end sections of the project. “Beaches are very dynamic systems, so we fully expect that area to change.”

He continued that the islands normally see an accretion of sand during this time of year.

“Instead, we’ve been seeing some erosion,” Evans said, pointing out that there has been some good news of late. “Over the last week, we’ve seen an accretion of sand vertically, almost 18 inches.”

He noted that there is also an accumulation of sand in the nearshore sandbar. Under the right conditions, the sand will wash up onto the beach and replace some of the lost escarpment.

“We hope conditions calm down, so we can see that natural accretion of sand that we see during the summer months,” Evans said.

City officials were closely monitoring the situation with Hurricane Isaias on the radar.

“We want to wait until after the storms pass and the system adjusts,” he said, adding that they will then re-evaluate the area to see if it has stabilized. “Right now, we’re just continuing to closely monitor.”

Despite the recent loss of sand and plants, the work has held up.

“The project itself was designed to protect the shoreline and the roadway. The wall is doing exactly what it was designed to do,” Evan said, explaining that no wave action reached the road in the storms.

“The project performed very well, as expected,” he added.

The public is asked to avoid walking on and through the roped off areas and new plantings.

“Certainly, we want to keep people off the escarpment,” Evans said. “Try to avoid those areas to the extent they can.”

Construction for the approximately $1.4 million project – covered by grant funds from Lee County and the Lee County Tourist Development Council – concluded at the end of May, with the area welcoming back beach-goers in early June when the Sanibel City Council lifted parking restrictions.

For the project, a larger approximately 500-foot armor stone layer was installed along an existing buried revetment, plus the installation of a Truline system – steel, concrete and vinyl combined into a one-wall system. A dual-interlocking vinyl form encases and protects the concrete and steel rebar.

A soft shoreline was then recreated with sand placement and dune restoration.

The project has been hailed as an example of how Sanibel and Captiva can work together with Lee County to make island beaches more resilient to the effects of climate change and sea-level rise.