Big Pass & New Pass Shoals Eyed for Beach Renourishment

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  By Paul Roat

Lido Key photo 3
Workers last renourished Lido Key in 2009. (Photo by Paul Roat)
An ambitious 50-year project to renourish sand to the beaches of Lido Key is on its way to have preliminary plans presented to the public, hopefully by October or November.

The project is estimated at an initial $20 million to bring about 1 million cubic yards of sand on shore. Also included in the plan is installation of three erosion control groins at the southern stretch of the Key jutting into the Gulf of Mexico.

The sand for this big project won’t be coming ashore for probably three years, according to Sarasota City Engineer Alex DavisShaw. However, another small plan could see sand move ashore in about 18 months to fill in beach lost after Tropical Storm Debby.


The small project

Tropical Storm Debby was a slow-moving, relatively mild storm system that mostly impacted the Florida Panhandle in late June 2012. However, large waves severely eroded beaches along Western Florida. Lido was particularly hard hit.

City and county officials applied to federal and state officials for funds to renourish the central section of Lido Beach. Funds have mostly been approved, and a permit is expected by early 2015.

DavisShaw said bidding for a dredging company to pump about 120,000 cubic yards of sand ashore would then take place and the sand from the shoal offshore of New Pass would begin. The sand is clean, white, and compatible with the existing material on the shore.

Cost of the project is estimated at $2.4 to $2.5 million, she said, with most of the funding coming from federal sources.


The big project

Sarasota City officials began work on a massive, long-range beach renourishment program for Lido Key.

“In the past 10 years, we’ve gotten federal funds for design,” DavisShaw said. “It’s been going very, very slowly.”

Sarasota County submitted a management plan to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and about $500,000 is hoped for sometime this year.

Preliminary design for the plan has been completed in July. That design calls for a project the length of the western shore of the key. Proposed are three erosion control groins to be constructed at the southern end of Lido in an effort to trap sand.

Another component proposed is to take some sand from the massive shoal north of Big Pass, DavisShaw said.

At last count there was estimated to be in excess of 30 million cubic yards of sand in that shoal area. The plan calls for “feathering” sand from the northern edges of the shoal.

DavisShaw said there would be public meeting with interested parties on the project in October or early November.

No dates or locations of the meetings have yet been scheduled.

If all goes according to plan, permits should be in hand within two years and construction could start shortly afterward.


Lido Beach renourishment history

Lido key photo 2
An aerial photo of Lido Key, looking north taken between 1962 and 1966, show what once was a wide, sandy beach. (Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation)
Depending on how you count the statistics, there have been either five or 10 movements of sand offshore onto Lido Beach over time.

Either the key is prone to erosion or people built homes and condominiums — mostly condos — too close to the water over the years.

Another issue with Lido is its relatively small size compared with other barrier islands. Lido historically was a cluster of mangrove islands called the Cerol Isles.

Entrepreneur, circus magnate, and Sarasota developer John Ringling bought those islands and St. Armands Key in the 1920s and through dredging and filling, expanded St. Armands and combined the Cerol Isles into what he called Lido Key.

Sand started coming ashore onto Lido’s beaches beginning in 1964 via dredging of New Pass. The inlet is mandated to be maintained as a navigational channel by the federal government and, to keep the channel at a sufficient depth for boaters, is dredged periodically.

Lido was the recipient of the sand for many years. Longboat Key officials, also seeking sources of sand for that island’s eroding beaches, struck a deal with Sarasota to alternate the sand placement.

The latest dredging project on Lido was in April 2009. The $4.6 million project moved about 400,000 cubic yards of sand from the pass to the key. That project was also required due to erosion caused by storms in 2006.

Longboat Key has been prone to erosion for decades.

Siesta Key has been spared from beach erosion and has maintains a wide, sandy beach.

Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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