Pictured Above: At the site of an early authorized FIMP project at Kirk Park Beach in Montauk in 2015.
Leaders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District gathered at the Fire Island Lighthouse on Dec. 17 for an official ceremony kicking off construction on the $1.7 billion Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) coastal-storm risk-management project, which has been in the works for several decades.
The project is designed to reduce flood risk along 83 miles of coastline along the South Shore, from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point.
Historically, Long Island’s barrier islands and south shore mainland communities have been battered by severe storms — New York has been impacted by 84 tropical or subtropical cyclones since the 17th Century.
“Today is a great day for Long Islanders who have been waiting many years for a project of this magnitude to reduce flood risk to their property and communities,” said Army Corps New York District Commander Col. Matthew Luzzatto. “This project represents another step in the process of increasing coastal resiliency throughout our Area of Responsibility, as we’ve done in multiple communities such as Coney Island, Long Beach, Fire Island to Montauk Inlet, and East Rockaway, where work is currently ongoing.”
The FIMP project begins at the site of the ceremony, where Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company will remove more than 1.5 million cubic yards of sand from Fire Island Inlet and place it on updrift and downdrift beaches to reduce erosion and strengthen coastal resiliency. Approximately 802,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed along Gilgo Beach and 716,000 on Robert Moses State Park. This contract also includes the construction of coastal process features in Robert Moses State Park which are designed to enhance piping plover habitats.
The project, Contract 1 of FIMP, was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company for nearly $47.5 million in August.
The work is 100 percent federally funded under Public Law 113-2, the Emergency Supplemental Bill passed not long after Superstorm Sandy hit Long Island in October of 2012.
“The long and winding road to realize the massive and impactful Fire Island to Montauk Point project took decades to travel and ends here with many miles of fortified dunes and berms, beach renourishment, back bay protections and funds to raise thousands of homes,” said New York Senator Charles Schumer. “I am proud, as part of the Superstorm Sandy Relief Law, I fought for and delivered the 100 percent federal cost share that broke the years-long inaction on this vital effort to protect Long Islanders who have suffered repeatedly from storms and flooding along the South Shore.”
The project includes building retrofits and elevation of approximately 4,400 homes in areas subject to high-frequency flooding, mostly in the area of Mastic Beach; a four-pronged Breach Response Plan for barrier islands evaluating potential actions for breaches resulting from severe storms and tidal surges; Beach and dune fill on shorefronts, with renourishment approximately every four years for up to 30 years after project completion; inlet bypassing at the federal navigation channels; removal of existing groins and jetties at Ocean Beach on Fire Island and a feeder beach construction adjacent to the beach in downtown Montauk (A feeder beach is an artificially widened beach that nourishes down-drift beaches).
Projects on the East End include the shortening of 13 groins along the Westhampton shoreline, and the voluntary elevation of numerous homes in the floodplain, along with beach replenishment work just west of the Shinnecock Inlet, which was done on as an emergency project in the winter of 2019 to 2020 after the ocean breached the barrier island there during several fall storms.
“This project will safeguard Suffolk County communities from severe storms and sea level rise, essential for preserving Long Island’s treasured natural resources for future generations,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “I look forward to continue working together to protect Long Island’s coastline from the effects of extreme weather brought on by climate change.”
“This is an historic day for Long Island as we take the most significant step yet toward making a reality this long overdue effort to improve and secure the long-term health and viability of Long Island’s environment, economy and coastal way of life,” said Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is the presumptive Republican nominee to run for New York Governor next year.
The New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers will lead the construction, along with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the non-federal sponsor, in cooperation with Suffolk County and the towns of Babylon, Islip, Brookhaven, Southampton and East Hampton.
“As the state partner in this decades-long, sustained effort to protect Long Island’s coastal communities, New York State DEC is working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce flood risks for Long Islanders,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Year after year, our changing climate is driving an uptick in flooding and severe storms. To protect our communities and our natural resources, we must work together to increase resiliency, reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, and ramp up renewable energy sources. With strong federal, state, and local partners, we are better prepared to meet the challenges of our changing climate.”
“With the threats of extreme weather becoming more and more common, we simply cannot leave our coastlines vulnerable,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.”Superstorm Sandy showed us just how important planning for the future is, and the FIMP project will not only help strengthen miles of our shoreline and reduce storm damage but will help make coastal communities along our south shore which are vital to the local economy more resilient.”