Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project Begins

St. Johns County Set to Begin $38.6 Million Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project

St. Johns County is set to begin the $38.6 million Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project in March that will restore storm-damaged dunes and berms to provide storm protection to upland infrastructure with more than two million cubic yards of sand dredged in from the ocean. The project will create additional environmental habitat for wildlife and enhance the recreational value of the beach. The project will stretch from the St. Johns-Duval County line to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve – about nine miles of coastline. The public can stay updated on the project and beach parking closures at www.sjcfl.us/PVB and by using the County’s mobile app SJC Connect, available at www.sjcfl.us/SJC-Connect.

At the Feb. 20 Board of County Commissioners regular meeting, the BOCC voted 5-0 to approve a motion authorizing the County to award the beach restoration bid to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder for the construction of the project – Weeks Marine.

The Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project will cost about $38.6 million, approximately $30.6 million of which has come from state legislative funding and grants. The remaining amount is being funded through County matching requirements and funding set aside from previous Board actions for this project.

The Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project will directly impact Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park and beach access in the area.

  • Park and beach access will be temporarily closed for short periods of time for heavy equipment mobilization starting mid-late March and demobilization (mid-late August) activities. Sand placement should begin in April.
  • Park and beach access will also close intermittently for contractor crew access.
  • Once the project starts, dredging and beach operations will be conducted 24/7 through its completion.
  • The western portion of the Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park parking lot will be reserved for contractor parking and storage.
  • Contractor crews and security will be present to guide pedestrian activity and ensure public safety.
  • St. Johns County Parks and Recreation will remove the Mickler’s Beach boardwalk and install a permanent, ADA-accessible mobi-mat.

“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.”

St. Johns County conducted a survey in the proposed project area to gauge resident sentiment on the project and discovered overwhelming support. Of residents who responded to the survey living along the “Northern Three Miles,” 96.6% agreed with the need for the project. Of residents who responded to the survey living along the “Southern Six Miles,” 91% agreed with the need for the project.

The Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project will provide substantial coastline fortifications, including dune reconstruction between 13 and 18 feet, beach berm elevation of eight feet, and beach width increase of 40 to 180 feet post-construction.

St. Johns County has 42 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline. The County manages 32 miles of the coastline. The Florida Department of Environmental Project designates 17.1 miles of the coastline as critically eroded, with an additional 7.6 miles deemed non-critically eroded. Historically, the St. Augustine and Matanzas Inlets have been the primary causes of erosion. In the present day, hurricanes, nor’easters, overwashes, and seawalls have also contributed, necessitating action by government entities at the local, state, and federal levels.

Stephen Hammond, Project Manager for St. Johns County Coastal Management, presented an update on upcoming and ongoing coastal projects at the 37th Annual National Conference on Beach Preservation Technology earlier this month.

In 2023, the County commenced six Coastal Management projects – FEMA Dune Enhancement Project (Hurricanes Ian/Nicole), FEMA Cat G South Ponte Vedra Park Repairs, Vilano Beach/South Ponte Vedra Beach Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM), Summer Haven Feasibility Study, Porpoise Point Drive Armoring Project, and Summer Haven Dredge Disposal. Construction of the first four projects has been completed; the last two are ongoing.

In coordination with these valuable coastal management projects, St. Johns County sustained important environmental and physical monitoring of the coastline. In 2023, St. Johns County beaches saw a record 133 green sea turtle nests as part of 1,205 total nests and an estimated 79,811 sea turtle hatchlings.

The complete list of 2023 Coastal Management Projects includes the following:

FEMA Dune Enhancement (Ian/Nicole) – Completed

  • Construction – July 14, 2023 – December 13, 2023
  • Borrow Area – Upland Mines, Keuka, and Goldhead (Vulcan)
  • Length: 6.7 miles
  • Volume Placed: 150,900 cubic yards
  • Sea Oats Planted: 470,000 (Earth Balance & Terra Crafters)
  • Engineer: Olsen Associates
  • Contractor: Phillips & Jordan
  • Cost: $12 million
  • Funding: FEMA and State

FEMA Cat G South Ponte Vedra Park Repairs – Completed

  • Construction – Sept. 18, 2023 – Sept. 26, 2023
  • Borrow Area – Upland Mines, Keuka, and Goldhead (Vulcan)
  • Length: 450 feet
  • Volume Placed: 2,300 cubic yards
  • Sea Oats Planted: 3,365 (Cross Creek Environmental)
  • Engineer: INTERA-GEC
  • Contractor: Southeastern Marine Group
  • Cost: $300,000
  • Funding: FEMA and St. Johns County

Vilano Beach/South Ponte Vedra Beach (CSRM) – Completed

  • Construction – August 2023 – December 2023
  • Borrow Area – N3
  • Length: 3 miles
  • Volume Placed: 1.1 million cubic yards
  • Sea Oats Planted: 390,000 (Earth Balance)
  • Engineer: United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • Contractor: Weeks Marine
  • Cost: $20 million
  • Funding: USACE FCCE

Summer Haven Feasibility Study – Completed

  • County-funded study of the Summer Haven River and surrounding areas.
  • The study aims to determine the effects of having the river open or closed and develop alternatives to keep the river open.
  • The second phase of the study will delve into the economic value of having the river open.

Porpoise Point Drive Armoring Project – Ongoing

  • Construction of a seawall with a riprap connection to a Federal structure
  • Construction – October 2023 – February 2024
  • Length of Seawall: 125 feet
  • Length of Riprap: 50 feet
  • Engineer: AtkinsRéalis
  • Contractor: Construct Co.
  • Cost: $1 million
  • Funding: St. Johns County

Summer Haven Dredge Disposal – Ongoing

  • Construction – October 2023 – April 2024
  • Borrow Area – Intracoastal Waterway
  • Length: 1.3 miles
  • Volume Placed: 500,000 cubic yards
  • Engineer: USACE
  • Contractor: Southwinds Construction
  • Funding: USACE and Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND)

Coastal Management plans to commence the following projects over the next couple of years:

Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project

  • Construction – April 2024 – July 2024
  • Borrow Area – N1
  • Length: 8.9 miles
  • Volume Placed: 2 million cubic yards
  • Engineer: Olsen Associates
  • Contractor: Weeks Marine
  • Cost: $38.6 million
  • Funding: St. Johns County and State

St. Augustine Beach Shoreline Protection Project – USACE

  • Construction – February 2024 – September 2024
  • Borrow Area – S1
  • Length: 3 miles
  • Volume Placed: 2.5 million cubic yards
  • Engineer: USACE
  • Contractor: Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company
  • Cost: $33.5 million
  • Funding: Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE)

FEMA Cat G South Ponte Vedra Dune Project

  • Construction – 2025
  • Borrow Area – N1
  • Length: 5 miles
  • Volume to Place: 700,000 cubic yards
  • Sea Oats to Plant: 600,000
  • Engineer: TBD
  • Contractor: TBD
  • Cost: TBD
  • Funding: FEMA and State

Porpoise Point Shoreline Stabilization Project

  • Project to construct a structure or structures to help reduce the wave impact and trap sand on the shoreline.
  • Request for qualification (RFQ) will go out to bid for design, permitting, and engineering in late February 2024.
  • St. Johns County received $2 million from the Florida Division of Emergency Management for design, permitting, and engineering work.

St. Johns County Coastal Management Plan

  • St. Johns County is in the final stages of the procurement process.
  • The goal of the plan is to perform an intensive review of the County’s coastline, analyzing the physical, environmental, and economic benefits of the coastal environment.
  • The plan will develop an array of coastal management practices.
  • Deliverables will include a report of the findings and a proposed plan for consideration and adoption by the BOCC.

For more information on St. Johns County Coastal Projects, visit www.sjcfl.us/departments/coastal-projects