The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to begin work this winter on three months of work to shore up downtown Montauk from storms, and they’ve just released their environmental assessment and a report on the expansion of the project, which are open for public comment through Sept. 25.
This so-called “stabilization project” would involve placing 14,171 geotextile bages full of sand along 3,100 linear feet of shoreline at the base of the existing dune, covered with a minimum of three feet of sand and plantings to mimic the appearance of a natural dune. The berm created by the bags would be 45 feet wide and nine-and-a-half feet tall.
The Army Corps had originally pitched a far more extensive, $20 million-plus project to East Hampton last year, but came back with a much-scaled-back project, slated to cost about $6 million, after changes to the way $700 million in post-Hurricane Sandy aid is alloted and after much debate in East Hampton about the best way to proceed with the project.
The Army Corps has since slightly expanded the project. The bags, when filled, way 1.7 tons each, and would be filled with 71,000 cubic yards of sand, 51,000 cubic yards of which would be trucked to the site from upland sources elsewhere in East Hampton Town, and 20,000 of which would be obtained by regrading and excavating the existing duen.
This spring, they’d been expecting to use just 45,000 cubic yards of sand. The price of the project is also expected to increase to $8.9 million.
The environmental assessment estimates that 30 trucks of sand will be driven to the site each day, for a total of “2,762 truck round trips from Wainscott, NY, or an alternate sand source nearby, to the Downtown Montauk project area over the three month construction duration.”
“Truck trips would occur from roughly 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days per week over a three month period,” according to the report.
The environmental assessment also states that the state DEC has not found any piping plover or least tern nesting areas within 1.5 miles of the work site.
The Army Corps estimates the economic benefit of the reduced potential for storm damage after the project is complete will be just over $100 million, while a report prepared for East Hampton Town by First Coastal Consulting Corp. late this spring found the economic benefit would be more than $236 million.
The First Coastal figures includes the avoided cost of dune and building repairs due to storms and also the protected accessory buildings and public and private infrastructure protected by the dune, while the Army Corps does not include either of those costs in their calculations.
East Hampton had commissioned the First Coastal report in part to shore up their argument that the Army Corps should do more to shore up Montauk due to the town’s calculation of a greater economic benefit.
The environmenatl assessment makes no mention of Ditch Plains, just to the east of downtown Montauk, a flood-prone area that many residents have been urging the town and the Army Corps to protect.
The document states the project will prevent the use of several oceanfront beaches in the project area, including a portion Kirk Park Beach, for the duration of the work, which would begin in January 2015 and be complete by May.
The full environmental report is online here. The public comment period is open through Sept. 25, and comments can be submitted via snail mail to The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District Planning Division-Environmental Branch (ATTN: Mr. Robert Smith), 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278-0090 or via email to Project Biologist Robert Smith at Robert.J.Smith@usace.army.mil and Project Manager Frank Verga at Frank.Verga@usace.army.mil.