Shoreline groin replacements play pivotal role at Cortez Beach

Beach renourishment is not the only work to be done to enhance Anna Maria Island’s shoreline this year.

The next beach improvement project should have benefits for the island ecology, as well as pedestrians and anglers.

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department director Charlie Hunsicker said the crumbling groins at Cortez Beach will be removed and replaced with permeable, adjustable groins designed by Coastal Planning & Engineering of Boca Raton, the county’s marine engineering firm.

Marine engineer Thomas Pierro of CP&E said the new groins are based on newer technology since the current groins at Cortez Beach were constructed in the late 1950s.

Pierro said the replacement groins will be “constructed to achieve the intent of the existing structures, with the advantage of fine-tuning the flow of sand and water through the groins” by adding or removing units to extend or shorten the groin “based on the measured performance.”

Two such groins were constructed at The Islander Club condominium on Longboat Key in 2012 under the supervision of CP&E, Pierro said.

The Longboat groins have been “highly successful and have undergone the planned adjustment to better regulate the flow of sand along the coast,” he said.

Pierro said the adjustable groin concept has been modified by CP&E engineers to allow maximum adjustment of the flow of sand and water to benefit the adjoining beach areas.

The Islander Key Club allows pedestrians and anglers to use the groins, but a decision on that issue at Cortez Beach will be up to Manatee County commissioners working with the Bradenton Beach City Commission, Hunsicker said.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon said he wants to see the design and safety features before taking a position on pedestrians and anglers.

“There’s a safety factor involved, and the city commission would make the decision along with county commissioners,” he said.

“But if it works on Longboat Key, I hope it might work in Bradenton Beach,” Shearon said.

“We have to wait and see the designs, the safety features, the city’s liability and talk with the county.”

Hunsicker said his department is still researching the estimated cost of the groins. The groins will be funded with state and county money. The county’s share will come from the resort tax fund, he said, while the state’s share will be in the 2014-15 state budget. That budget does not take effect until signed by the governor, usually in June, Hunsicker said.

A marine contractor for the project would be selected through the county’s competitive bidding process, and CP&E marine engineers would supervise construction.

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