The Oceanfront will get some renourishment, so expect to see heavy equipment

Virginia Beach Oceanfront (Southside Daily file)
Virginia Beach Oceanfront (Southside Daily file)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Oceanfront is getting some added protection, thanks to a joint effort by the city and the Army Corps of Engineers’ Norfolk District.

The district has awarded the Virginia Beach Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project renourishment contract to Oak Brook, Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. The bid of $22.64 million includes the placement of 1.85 million cubic yards of sand from 15th Street to 70th Street, the Army Corps said.

The federal investment for this renourishment cycle is $14.71 million, or 65 percent total project costs, including design, construction and administrative.

The Virginia Beach Public Works Department expects beach placement to begin in mid-June and be completed by Aug. 31, according to the Corps.

After an extensive mobilization effort, which could start in early June, officials expect beach replenishment to begin at the beach’s south end near 15th Street and move northward as the project progresses.

Crews will be working in roughly 1,000-feet sections of the beach, closest to the water, and access to these areas will be closed off to beachgoers to ensure public and contractor safety. The remaining sections, outside the work zone, will remain open.

The Corps’ Norfolk District, in partnership with the city of Virginia Beach, will administer the contract.

The hurricane and storm damage reduction system was originally completed in 2001, and this is the second beach-replenishment contract since initial construction. The first replenishment occurred in 2012, when crews placed 1.25 million cubic yards of sand on the beach, the Corps said.

The project consists of beach-berm renourishment along the Virginia Beach oceanfront to provide for a minimum elevation of 9 feet above sea level, and minimum crest width of 100 feet.

“We are fortunate to have the assistance of the Norfolk District of the Army Corps of Engineers with this important project.  Protecting our oceanfront is vital to Virginia Beach’s economic health and fortifying our beach just as we head into hurricane season is so important to our city and the businesses that are so dependent upon this resource,” said Tom Leahy, Virginia Beach deputy city manager

Beachgoers and hotel guests can expect to see heavy equipment and contractor personnel in placement areas. Renourishment operations will take place 24/7. The Corps and city anticipate work crews to proceed relatively quickly, only being directly behind a hotel or residential property for a day or two before moving on.

“Getting this project completed before the height of hurricane season greatly reduces the risk from storm damages to the oceanfront infrastructure, and continues to show our commitment to protecting this vitally important area,” Kristin Mazur, Norfolk District project manager.

Frequent updates about the project’s status will be maintained at the Norfolk District’s website and on the district’s social media accounts: Facebook and Twitter.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.