Sarasota city manager says shoreline now better able to withstand storms.
More than 200,000 cubic yards of sand – enough to fill 1,500 backyard swimming pools – now rests on Lido Beach following completion of a New Pass dredging project that began in November.
The $3.9 million project pumped sand from the waterway that separates St. Armands Key from Longboat Key, which was already deemed too shallow for safe navigation by the U.S. Coast Guard, to the Lido shoreline from the Pavilion to a point about a mile south.
Tom Barwin, Sarasota City Manager, said in his monthly newsletter the 40-80 feet of additional beach width gives some breathing room to oceanfront property and wildlife.
“Enjoy this freshly restored area and rest easier knowing Lido Beach is better positioned to ward off Mother Nature’s fury,’’ Barwin wrote, adding a few details remain and crews might still need to document the condition of the beach over the next few days.
Lido Beach's shoreline experienced critical erosion during 2016's Tropical Storm Hermine and 2017's Hurricane Irma, which threatened Lido’s beachfront infrastructure. Following that season, the city armored the shoreline with large sandbags because of the critically narrow sand, then embarked on this emergency dredging project.
Alex DavisShaw, Sarasota's city engineer, said Lido Key lost an estimated 15 feet of shoreline in 2017's Hurricane Irma and 2018's first storm, subtropical storm Alberto.
The project was funded by the city, county, state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The dredging of New Pass follows the U.S. Coast Guard’s decision to remove the channel’s navigation markers — a signal to boaters the channel isn’t up to safety standards — in 2017. Coast Guard officials said they would re-examine the channel following the dredging to see if markers could be replaced. Boaters, though, frequently ply the pass with GPS-based navigation assistance.
Longboat Key and Sarasota have traditionally taken turns dredging New Pass and putting the sand to use in renourishment projects. The last time New Pass was dredged was in late 2016 by Longboat, which sent the sand to the town's south end beaches. Tropical storm Hermine's passage in September of that year hastened the shoaling of New Pass.
Longboat’s next beach re-nourishment project is scheduled for 2021. The town has been re-nourishing its beaches since 1993 and has had more than 3.3 million cubic yards of sand placed along the island’s 9.3-mile shoreline.