The stretch of beach was closed last summer due to heavy erosion. On May 14, 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio along with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced the completion of the East Rockaway Inlet maintenance dredging project. The completion of the project will allow for the reopening of the stretch of beach from Beach 92nd Street to Beach 105th Street. The portion of beach was closed last summer due to erosion and lack of sand.
As defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, dredging is the “removal of sediments and debris from the bottoms of lakes, rivers, harbors and other water bodies. It is a routine necessity in waterways around the world because sedimentation – the natural process of sand and silt washing downstream – gradually fills channels and harbors.”
The project, started in April 2019, used dredged sand to restore Rockaway Beach. The work revives the beach and allows for safe passage for vessels through East Rockaway Inlet. During the project, approximately 348,000 cubic yards of sand were removed from the inlet.
The project was done by USACE contractor Weeks Marine. The total project cost $10.7 million and the City contributed $2.7 million to this project.
Additionally, the USACE New York District is in the process of finalizing the Rockaway & Jamaica Bay Reevaluation Report, which will authorize the construction of new erosion control features, beach fills, reinforced sand dunes and flood risk reduction features.
Mayor de Blasio stated, “For New Yorkers, summer means Rockaway beach. That’s why I could not be happier to announce we will have the entire beach open in time for Memorial Day weekend.”
Senator Schumer stated, “Getting tons of sand onto Rockaway Beach in time for summer – and avoid a repeat disaster of prime time beach closures – required every level of government to dig in deep. And using the sand from the East Rockaway dredge was a win-win plan because it keeps open a vital channel and all of Rockaway Beach. I fought hard to secure the extra money Army Corps needed to dredge, and pushed the plan to use that sand to shore up the most eroded parts of the beach, which were closed last season. Kudos to Mayor de Blasio and the Army Corps for working together to fix for this situation. No one wanted to have another partial beach shutdown again this summer—and now we won’t.”
Borough President Katz stated, “The completion of this sand replenishment project is welcome news for Rockaway Beach residents and visitors, who will now have access to the entire beach this summer.”
Colonel Thomas D. Asbery, commander, USACE, New York District, stated, “This is just another example of the fantastic work USACE does on a regular basis both in New York and across the Nation. Our crews worked 24/7 to get this project done because it’s vital to the residents of this community. Our efforts to beneficially reuse the dredged material to restore this section of the Rockaway’s heavily eroded shorefront will provide additional coastal storm risk reduction benefits and increase resiliency in advance of hurricane season.”
New York City’s public beaches are now open and will remain open through Sunday, September 8th.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018.)