LIDO KEY, Fla. -- Frequent cold fronts are pushing back a badly needed beach re-nourishment project on Lido Key. The beach is critically eroded, and in some areas, buildings are in the water.
“We’re not pumping today. The pipe on the beach is secured from the weather,” says Curtis Huggins, Coastal Dredging Company, Inc.
Another cold front moved in this month and stopped the emergency beach renourishment project on Lido beach for the fifth time since the dredging project started last month.
“The rain does not stop us it’s the wave action,” says Huggins. “The front is very frustrating.”
Huggins says the effects of the front takes a couple of days for waves to settle before he can start pumping sand again out of New Pass. Meanwhile, his costs for equipment and payroll continue.
Since the 3.9 million dollar project started a month ago Huggins say they’ve lost 14 days of work that’s the amount of weather days calculated for the entire 90 day project to be finished by February 12.
It’s not just the number of days lost. Huggins says with each cold front, part of their work washes out with the crashing waves.
Huggins says, “Hopefully the majority of it stays in place so we don’t have to replace a bunch of it.”
So far crews have completed a fifth of the project. They’ve replaced 700 feet of public beach and widened the beach 120-140 feet out into the gulf.
A yellow tape 10-15 feet from the eroded dunes marks how little beach was left.
“This beach was hit hard by erosion,” says Huggins.
It’s a temporary fix to restore the coastline to what it was decades ago. Lido Key resident Bill Tiberend remembers.
“It’s important to have a beach; it’s the reason why we come here. We enjoy it,” says Tiberend.
But time is critical because while each cold front chips away at the newly restored beach area, it delays workers from moving further south to areas with no sand and vulnerable to the pounding surf.
“We need to start getting help from Mother Nature and pray for better weather, that’s the key,” says Huggins.
Huggins says they will be adding additional pumps to step up dredging between weather delays. He’s confident he will finish by the February deadline.
Once again, this dredging project is a temporary fix. The city’s long-term renourishment plan is to dredge Big Pass on the south end of Lido Key every 5 years for 20 years. The $20-$22 million project with the Army Corps of Engineers was set to start in the spring.
The dredging is pending due to litigation by a Siesta Key group who opposes the dredging.
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