Dual beach restoration projects costing more than $70M to launch in St. Johns County
St. Johns County will see two massive beach restoration projects begin in March. Photo via St. Johns County.

Beach restoration projects in the Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine Beach areas in the coming months will cause some beach closures.

Major beach restoration projects are about to get underway in St. Johns County, one of Florida’s most tourist-reliant counties.

Two substantial portions of shoreline will undergo restoration work nearly simultaneously beginning in March. One of those will be a $38.6-million project paid for by mostly state funds in the northern areas of the county in the Ponte Vedra Beach area. That’s in the area of some of the most exclusive resorts and swanky golf courses such as Sawgrass Marriott Golf & Resort Spa and others.

Another beach restoration project will be launched next month on the shoreline of the main St. Augustine Beach area running from near Anastasia State Park through St. Augustine Beach to A Street. That is just south of the St. Augustine Beach Pier. The project will require $33 million in federal funds. The St. Augustine Beach stretch of shoreline draws many of the tourists visiting the Nation’s Oldest City in St. Augustine proper.

The Ponte Vedra Beach restoration project will run from the northern reaches of St. Johns from the Duval County Line south through Ponte Vedra residential and resort areas into the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. That project will cover a massive nine miles.

The northern St. Johns County beach renourishment project was approved for contractor Weeks Marine and will involve placing more than 2 million cubic yards of new sand dredge onto the beaches and dune replenishment. During the project, several public beach accesses with parking areas will be adversely effective and county officials warn beachgoers some of those areas could be closed on and off before the project is complete in October.

“Public safety is our top priority during this project,” St. Johns County Emergency Management Director Joe Giammanco said. “We’re going to move through this as fast as we can with as little impact, but safety is paramount. We will communicate the details of this project to the public as extensively and frequently as possible.”

The federal beach restoration to the south will face similar complexities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said several elements of the heavy equipment necessary for the project have already been moved into place for the work that will be performed by contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co.

The project in the more southern area of the county will cover a more modest 3.9 miles. But there are additional elements involved in the St. Augustine Beach project.

“The purpose of the project is to mitigate for down-drift shoreline impacts caused by the federal navigation channel at St. Augustine Inlet, and provide storm damage reduction for upland development,” read a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District news release.

Many of those complications were caused by impacts from Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole in 2022.

When the St. Augustine Beach shoreline restoration project begins, construction will run 24 hours a day and seven days a week as crews in that area also pump an estimated 800,000 yards of dredged sand onto the shoreline. The St. Augustine Beach project is projected to take at least three months to complete. The contractor expects some temporary beach closures due to the work as it progresses and public notices will be posted.

While the Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine Beach shoreline replenishment projects are extensive and cost tens of millions of dollars, St. Johns County already is eyeing yet another beach renourishment project surrounding the Summer Haven residential and environmentally sensitive area.

That work has already been estimated to cost as much as $121.9 million over the next 50 years near the Matanzas Inlet, just north of the Flagler County line. While the county has already spent more than $10 million on some beach restoration in that area, the county recently spent about $400,000 to conduct a study on replenishing plans for Summer Haven which has seen heavy damage from storms in recent years.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected].


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