Work to shore up the beach on the northern, ocean-facing end of Jekyll Island is moving forward following a meeting Friday of the state Shore Protection Committee. It’s Phase Two of a massive project to put right what was damaged following hurricanes Matthew and Irma.
It was Irma that led the state Department of Natural Resources to provide emergency orders to Villas by the Sea and the Cottages at Jekyll Island.
Phase One of the project kicked off with letters of permission that allowed work along the 9,800-foot area from around King Avenue to just north of the Villas by the Sea property. Phase Two is to run from around 2,000 feet south of Captain Wylly Road up to the Driftwood Beach Access Trail — around 16,000 feet. From there, it’s split into two sections — the southern section, which is about 15,000 feet, and the 1,000-foot northern section. Included in the plaza are debris removal, “sand placement, dune construction, construction of a rock revetment return, installation of a geotextile tube and construction of several new public access paths and crossovers.”
Financing for the project got underway in October 2017, when Gov. Nathan Deal authorized the transfer of $4 million from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to help put some momentum behind the shoreline rehabilitation.
“Due to hurricanes Matthew and Irma, there is an immediate need for the rehabilitation of the rock revetment and restoration of armament on the north portion of Jekyll Island,” Deal said in a statement at the time. “I’ve allocated $4 million to cover these immediate needs and will seek supplemental funding in the amended budget to assist other beachfront areas impacted by hurricane-related erosion.”
In a November 2017 document, the firm Applied Technology & Management, laid out why the work was necessary: “It is noted that (mean high water) and highest astronomical tide are 2.6 and 5.0 feet (above sea level), respectively, so that under spring and king tide conditions — or events with storm surge — the revetment is easily overtopped by wave action and, in some areas, inundated under normal high tide conditions.
“The existing revetment crest is not uniform in elevation and, while functional, does not provide the level of protection originally intended.”
The crossovers, included in the plans, are to ensure it’s possible to easily access the beach along the area, and are to go in at the end of Barron, Bliss, Nelson, Tyler, Porter, Ellis, Albright, Steward, Austin and Gould lanes, plus at the rock revetment return site.
According to the DNR staff findings and recommendations, “The 11 proposed crossovers will be contracted of wood. The project will result in temporary disturbances associated with the construction of the crossovers, and upon project completion, the natural topography and vegetation shall be restored to at least its formal condition.”
Also, all work done is to be done outside the period of sea turtle nesting season, which runs May-October annually, and, the findings and recommendations report states, “The proposed project will restore lost habitats and aid in the prevention of turtle trappings behind the rock revetment.”