Feds Earmark $16 Million for Pinellas Beach Renourishment
The Army Corps of Engineers announced it will give Pinellas an additional $16 million in funds this summer for the beach renourishment project.
PINELLAS COUNTY – The Pinellas County federal beach nourishment project will receive an additional $16 million in federal funding this summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week.
Last summer, the County was awarded $12.8 million to respond to storm damage to Pinellas beaches. With the additional monies and $5.15 million from the county’s bed tax and $5.15 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Corps will be able to renourish up to 10.5 miles of beaches to provide critical coastal storm damage protection, recreational opportunities and enhanced natural habitats. The federal government has invested nearly $120 million in restorative beach erosion control measures, including beach nourishment and the construction of groins, to date.
“The Pinellas County beach nourishment program has been a model partnership among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state, county and local communities for more than 40 years,” said Janet Long, chair of the Pinellas County Commission. “The funding for the construction this Fall would not have been possible without support of the Jacksonville District Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Congressmen Charlie Crist and Gus Bilirakis.”
Crist said, “Pinellas County is a peninsula on a peninsula, surrounded almost entirely by coastline. With rising sea levels, increasing storm surges, and erosion caused by hurricanes like Hermine, the importance of nourishment projects is urgent to protect our economy, infrastructure, and coastal properties. I thank Commissioner Long and the entire commission for their commitment to our beaches, and the Army Corps for listening to our concerns. I look forward to continuing our work together, to push forward with this major project benefiting Pinellas.”
In addition to beach renourishment funding, the Army Corps’ work plan includes the full federal cost share of $9 million for the Port Tampa Bay Big Bend Channel navigation project, as well as a “New Start” designation for this deepening and widening project.
With the beach renourishment project scheduled to begin this fall, a key step in the process remains securing the proper easements from property owners along the length of the project. Together, the county and municipalities sent letters to all property owners last January to request the easements. The easements will allow for necessary construction activities without any gaps in the project and will preserve public access to the beaches. Property owners have until June 2 to provide the easement. Owners with questions or who have not yet signed an easement should contact Dr. John Bishop, Pinellas County coastal management coordinator, at (727) 464-8677.
The Pinellas County Shore Protection Project includes three federally authorized segments that are actively maintained by the federal government in a cost-share agreement with Pinellas County. Based on construction bids, segments could include Sand Key, Treasure Island and Long Key.
Our beaches provide critical coastal protection from storms, unparalleled recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors, and important habitat for shorebirds and nesting sea turtles. “This project aligns perfectly with the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners’ strategic goal of practicing superior environmental stewardship to preserve and manage environmental lands, beach parks and historical assets,” Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard said.
For information about beach renourishment in Pinellas, go to pinellascounty.org.
Pinellas County | Beach Renourishment | Janet Long | Charlie Crist | Gus Bilirakis | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
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