Lido Key Beach Replenishment benefits Big Pass

The Army Core of Engineering (ACE) and the City of Sarasota Engineering Department provided a briefing on Saturday, December 7th at the Sarasota Yacht Club for the benefit of the boating community.

The presenters were Milan A. Mora, P.E. and Jason A. Engle, P.E. of ACE and Alex Davisshaw, P.E. Director of Engineering for the City.

To begin, it must be made very clear that the projects goal is replenishment of sand on Lido Key beaches. This is not a project to dredge the passes into Sarasota Bay. Conveniently those passes contain the sand required to replenish the beaches and therefore we benefit serendipitously.

This project began as the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) of 1999. In 2004 a feasibility study was conducted and the following was determined.

  • 1.1 million cubic yards of sand were required to replenish the sand on Lido Key and create a sacrificial buffer zone.
  • The source of the sand would be
    • Big Pass and the sand bar to the north
    • New Pass (future)
    • Other sources were considered but the sand was not compatible
  • Construct 3 groins at the south end of Lido. A groin is a form of a seawall buried in the sand to limit erosion consisting of large boulders.

There will be a 5 year refill cycle to replace sand removed by natural erosion. This will keep the pass(es) dredged. The total project life cycle is 50 years.

The timeline is:

  • Feb 2014 Application
  • Oct 2015 Project Start
  • Apr 2016 Initial Project Completion

This project will cost $22.7 M. Funding is 62.4% Federal, the remainder is split between the State and City. The city funding is expected to come from tourist revenue.

The most salient point for us was the control depth of the dredged channel. Big pass will be dredged to 12 feet. New Pass may not be dredged in the first phase of the project. Every 5 years the Lido Key beach erosion will be relished from Big Pass and possibly New Pass sand thereby keeping the channel(s) open for a long time.

Most of the boating community, Marina Jack, Sarasota Yacht Club, Bird Key Yacht Club, and Field Club use Big Pass. New Pass is used primarily by the Moorings, 10th Street, and the Squadron, with the Moorings being the most impacted. The sand replenishment project needs a lot of sand, so New Pass dredging will probably occur.

I did ask if there was a way to lobby for New Pass. The dredging project began in 1999 and is seeing the light of day in 2014, which is a 15 year lead time. We must accept the sand replenishment agenda as the principle and only agenda and look for a secondary benefit, the source of the sand. To alter the project to have dredging of the channels a direct benefit will set the project back perhaps another 15 years.

This was the second meeting of many. The first was at Siesta Key. This meeting the press was barred, it was a private meeting. The meeting was very polite, informative, and open. All questions and comments were welcomed. The presenters and the audience were very professional allowing for excellent communication. The Sarasota Yacht Club will host a second meeting on this subject later.

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