1.2 million cubic yards of sand to be added to Willoughby Spit coastline this spring

Southsidedaily.com is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

NORFOLK — Last month, the city, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, began work on a resanding project that will restore about 7.3 miles of shoreline in Ocean View.

As of Tuesday night, Patrick Bloodgood, a spokesperson for the Army Corps, said the project was about 19 percent completed. Nearly 233,000 cubic yards of sand have been added to the beach in the past month.

“It’s a vulnerable section of the city of Norfolk that butts up against the Chesapeake Bay,” Bloodgood said. “It sees a good amount of wave action.”

Upon completion in May, the shore along Willoughby Spit from the bottom of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel to the Little Creek Inlet, will have an added 1.2 million cubic yards of sand, widening the beachfront by about 60 feet. It’s the largest single storm damage reduction project in the city, according to a project website.

First surveyed in 1983, Bloodgood said the project was created under the Water Resources Development Act to protect Willoughby Spit from further wave-related erosion. Wave action from the bay, Bloodgood said, deteriorates the coastline over time.

After Hurricane Isabel struck the area in 2003, nearly 75 percent of sand dunes along the coast were destroyed. The section of beach was evaluated again after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2014.

The addition of new sand will create an upslope, reaching about five feet above the average water height, which will help to absorb wave energy and prevent erosion of sand dunes put in place to protect structures beyond the sand.

“Without resanding the beach, the dunes would again be opened up to possible storm damage,” Bloodgood said.

About every nine years, the seven miles of coastline will receive an additional 445,000 cubic yards of sand, unless another significant storm calls for more frequent filling.

A small stretch of beach line, between Warwick Avenue and 1st Bay Street, will not see an increase in sand as part of the project, Bloodgood said, because there is already and adequate level of seashore.

The $34.5 million project is expected to wrap up just before Memorial Day.

Follow Amy on Twitter @amy_k_poulter or contact her at amy@localvoicemedia.com