Army Corps of Engineers contractor expected to be finished with Lido Project by May 1

Altogether, about 800,000 cubic yards of sand was removed from Big Pass for the renourishment initiative

The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the final stages of constructing two groins on Lido Key. The man-made barriers, built using just under 5,000 tons of armor stone, are designed to strengthen shoreline resilience. Their construction is the final step in a two-part Corps of Engineers shore protection project that saw the placement of some 680,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach at Lido Key. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In his April 16 newsletter, Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody touted the new look of Lido Beach.

He noted that the contractor hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently had placed “more than 700,000 cubic yards of recycled sand … along the length of the public beach, from the parking lot and Lido Pavilion area down to south Lido [creating] a huge new beach with plenty of space for everyone to spread out …”

Brody added that the construction of two groins — the last phase of the Lido Key Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project — was nearly complete. “One of these massive rock structures” already was finished, he continued. The second one, “located near the entrance to the public beach at South Lido, is expected to be complete later this month,” he wrote.

In response to a Sarasota News Leader request for an update on the project, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) public information officer David Ruderman, in the Jacksonville District Office, wrote in an April 27 email that the project team “expects final armor stone delivery tonight [for the second groin]. Final placement and Corps on-site inspection and ‘as-built’ approval of final placement should be concluded by early next week. The contractor expects to be off the beach ahead of 5/1 permit [deadline].”
Ruderman was referring to a stipulation in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) permit, issued in June 2018 to the City of Sarasota and the USACE for the Lido initiative.

This is an aerial view of the first groin on Lido Key. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In a March 3 update, Ruderman told the News Leader that the first groin would be about 175 feet long, while the second one would extend approximately 345 feet. The USACE’s December 2019 solicitation for the Lido Key Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project noted that the armor stone is an integral facet of the groins. The stones were to be “mostly uniform from 3,000 pounds to 5,000 pounds, with fifty percent (50%) of the stone greater than 4,000 pounds.”

The groins have been designed to try to hold sand in place between renourishment initiatives, which the USACE project team has predicted will be necessary about every five years. The FDEP permit is good for 15 years.

Cottrell Contracting Corp. of Chesapeake, Va., which won the $12,688,582 bid for the work on Lido, hired a subcontractor, Earth Tech Enterprises of Fort Myers, to construct the groins.

During the April 1 Siesta Key Association (SKA) meeting, Director Robert Luckner reported of the groins, “They look bigger than what I was expecting …”

The SKA has been monitoring the Lido undertaking, as the sand for the beach came from Big Sarasota Pass, which lies between Siesta and Lido keys. Big Pass never had been dredged before the Lido project began.

This is another aerial view of one of the groins, with the construction fencing around the site. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Further, Ruderman wrote in his April 27 email, “[B]ird nesting monitoring is ongoing and turtle nest monitoring has been ongoing since last Thursday, 4/15.” He reported that no issues have occurred, as evidenced by the birds “congregating on [the] northern stretch of the beach.”

Kylie Wilson, coordinator of Audubon Florida’s shorebird stewardship and monitoring program in the county, noted in her most recent update — April 22 — that she had confirmed the first least tern nests on Lido this season. In her April 9 report, she wrote that she had seen more than 20 of those birds on the island.

Moreover, in her April 22 update, Wilson noted that she had counted more than 420 black skimmers, as well as four endangered snowy plovers, which she had spotted in a nesting enclosure she and volunteers have created for the least terns.

This is a least tern next to a one-egg nest on Lido Key. Photo courtesy of Kylie Wilson, Audubon Florida

In his email, Ruderman also pointed out, “The northern staging area [for the renourishment project] has been turned back over to City of Sarasota, and terms have been agreed for turnover of the southern staging area.”

The southern staging area is within Sarasota County’s Ted Sperling Park, on south Lido. The county agreed to allow the contractor to use a section of the park as long as the contractor complied with certain specifications, including returning the area to its pre-staging appearance.

The last of the armor stone is transported from the stockpile in the South Staging Area, in Ted Sperling Park, to the beach for placement. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Final tally of sand from Big Pass

The News Leader this week also asked Ruderman about Mayor Brody’s reference to more than 700,000 cubic yards of sand having been removed from Big Pass for the Lido initiative.

In late December 2020, Ruderman told the News Leader that the USACE had documented 683,084 cubic yards of sand having been removed from Big Pass for placement on Lido Key.

In a later email this week, Ruderman explained, “Mayor Brody was correct. The contractor placed 683,084 cubic yards of sand within the Corps beach template on Lido Key, the amount we reported to you back in December. This amount was arrived at based on the contractor’s daily load measurements and confirmed by their surveys after placement.

“HOWEVER,” Ruderman continued, “the contractor estimates [the dredging crew] removed approximately 800,000 cubic yards of sand from the borrow areas [in Big Pass], some of which was placed on the beach but then washed away due to wind, [storms] and other natural processes. The difference between the former (the pay volume) and the latter (the dredged volume) is known in the trade as the loss percentage — it is typically 10-20 percent of the dredged material depending on the particulars of each project,” Ruderman added.

Therefore, using the 683,084 and 800,000 figures, Ruderman continued, he calculated a “roughly 15 percent loss of sand.”

This is a view of homes fronting on Big Pass in early March, after the dredging was completed. Image courtesy of Michael Holderness

The News Leader also asked Ruderman about other comments SKA Director Luckner made about the Lido project on April 1.

Referring to USACE project team members, Luckner said, “They have to finally disclose their pre-construction depth and shoreline locations survey” and then undertake a new survey to show what Big Pass and the shoreline look like post-construction.

Ruderman explained that, as “the Corps construction division wraps up the project, the Corps engineering division will conduct post-project borrow area surveys and report the findings to FDEP. It’s known as a Post-Construction Physical Monitoring Report and will be written and submitted to FDEP this autumn, because that’s how long it takes. That assessment then becomes a baseline of sorts for measuring future shoaling and other dynamics that may be considered in future planning considerations and project designs.”

The revised permit FDEP issued for the Lido project in April 2020 said in Section 25a, “Topographic and bathymetric profile surveys of the beach and offshore shall be conducted prior to commencement of construction and immediately following completion of construction. [“Bathymetric” refers to the depth of the water.] Thereafter, monitoring surveys shall be conducted annually for a period of three (3) years, and then biennially until the next beach nourishment event.”

These are the sand borrow areas in Big Pass, as noted in an attachment to the USACE’s December 2019 solicitation for the renourishment initiative on Lido Key. Image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The permit added, “The monitoring surveys shall be conducted during a spring or summer month and repeated as close as practicable during that same month of the year.”

“The monitoring area shall include profile surveys at each of the Department of Environmental Protection’s reference monuments on Lido Key and north Siesta Key,” the permit noted.

Those monuments are geographic designations, not physical markers.