Lido beach building on target

Editor & Publisher

One area project that has not been slowed or stalled by coronavirus, is the plan to rebuild Lido Beach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has not waivered from its anticipated commencement in early June to begin dredging 1.3 million cubic yards of Big Pass to be placed on more than 1.5 miles of Lido Beach.

Although the project will take place during the May 1 through Oct. 31 sea turtle nesting season, the project permit mandates that daily turtle nesting surveys take place starting two months prior to the beginning of the project.

The plan to renourish the highly eroded Lido Beach has been met with years of legal, administrative and procedural opposition by the Siesta Key Association. That opposition continues with the group sending letters to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) addressing what it refers to as areas of noncompliance with the issued permit.

Although more than 1 million cubic yards of sand will be dredged, only about 710,000 cubic yards will make it to the beach because the remainder is lost in the dredging process.

The USACE awarded the contract, which is worth $12.7 million, for the dredging work to Cottrell Contracting Corporation.

Although the Siesta Key Association has challenged the project at every level, after hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, the end result has been to stall the project for a number of years. Now, since all appeals and challenges have been exhausted, the project is moving forward.

The opposition to the dredging plan reflected fear by Siesta Key residents that removing sand from Big Pass could negatively impact the Siesta Key shoreline to the south.

The main factor going forward that could interfere with the project is what is anticipated to be a busy hurricane season this year.

It is the beach that ultimately provides protection for Lido Beach homes and infrastructure from their turbidity emanating from storms.  Some areas of the beach have eroded so severely that there is not only the lack of a recreational beach, but also of a protective buffer.

The main goal of the project and the overall beach plan is to protect residences, businesses and infrastructure. The renourishment plan for the summer and fall is expected to provide protection for up to five years.

An additional part of the project includes installing two semi-permeable groins that will jut out from the south end of Lido Key to help slow the rate of erosion and the transport of sand into the pass.

Sixty-two percent of the project is being paid for the USACE, 19 percent from a state grant and 19 percent is coming from local tourist development taxes.

The beach building will not close down any of the public access except for areas that will be cordoned off for safety.

Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin says the project should be complete by the end of the year.

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