New void opens up on Casey Key Road, this time as a result of effects of ‘Invest 90L’

Barrier island has had problems with similar situations over recent years

This is a photo of the void that appeared on Casey Key Road on the night of June 20. Image courtesy Sarasota County

During the night of June 20, a void opened on Casey Key Road as a result of the effects on the Gulf of Mexico produced by “Invest 90L” a couple of weeks ago, Sarasota County staff announced.

Waves did wash over the road, county staff said, as the tropical system also dropped more than 8 inches of rain on parts of the city of Sarasota on June 11. County Public Works Department Director Spencer Anderson likened the resulting flooding to a 1,000-year storm event.

WPBF of West Palm Beach explained on June 16 that “Invest 90L” was an area of low pressure in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that the National Hurricane Center monitored because of the potential that it could develop into a tropical storm.

Repairs to the affected Casey Key Road segment began on June 21, staff noted in an advisory for the news media. Use of “appropriate emergency codes” enabled county workers to respond quickly, the advisory pointed out.

The repairs were anticipated to be complete by the end of the day on Saturday, June 22, the advisory added. Until the work was finished, it said, the southbound lane of North Casey Key Road would be closed at the location of 230 N. Casey Key Road. The northbound lane would be utilized for alternating two-way traffic.

Appropriate traffic control devices were put in place for the overnight lane closure, to ensure two-way traffic, the advisory pointed out. Pedestrians and bicyclists were urged to avoid North Casey Key Road “to prevent conflict” with the work and adjusted traffic patterns.

However, because storms persisted over the weekend, it was not until just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, that county staff reported that the repairs on Casey Key Road were complete. Both lanes were open, that advisory said, and all traffic control devices had been removed.

This is not the first time that a tropical system or a hurricane making its way through the Gulf of Mexico has produced a void on part of Casey Key Road, as evidenced by past county reports.

This is damage at a Casey Key property after Hurricane Nestor’s passage through the Gulf in October 2019. Image courtesy Sarasota County

As a result of Hurricane Idalia’s passage through the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, 2023, waves produced “oversplash across the road,” a county Environmental Protection Division staff report said. Road damage was observed at each step-revetment area on that barrier island, that report added, “with large portions of delaminated asphalt creating displaced ‘mats’ on the road surface.”

A ”couple of small areas of eroded roadway” were observed in the vicinity of 712 N. Casey Key Road, that report continued, “but the road was passable. Guardrail damage was also noted at the step-revetment in the 712 N. Casey Key road area.” Further, the report said, “Several of the rocks along the top of the step revetment near 316 N. Casey Key Road” were missing; a county crew was in the process of replacing them.

In December 2023, the county commissioners voted unanimously in approving a Coastal Setback Variance to allow construction of a 1,930-linear-foot seawall between the parcels located at 526 and 840 N. Casey Key Road.

Karen Erickson of Erickson Consulting Engineers in Sarasota — the engineer of record for that initiative — told the commissioners during their Dec. 12, 2023 public hearing that the affected road segment “is highly vulnerable to storm damage … and has become increasingly … at great risk of failure.”

The county staff report provided to the board members in advance of that meeting pointed out, “The County has spent nearly $300,000 addressing at least 35 work orders for road repairs at this section of North Casey Key Road since 2016 due to overwash, infiltration, and undermining.”

Earlier, in June 2020, the county’s Public Works Department staff spent about a week trying to repair a section of North Casey Key Road that had been shattered by Tropical Storm Cristobal. Again, the affected area was in front of 712 N. Casey Key Road, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office reported.

This photo shows part of the void in front of 712 N. Casey Key Road. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

In that situation, the Sheriff’s Office received a call early in the afternoon of June 7, 2020 about erosion undermining the road in front of 712 N. Casey Key Road, the agency reported.

After assessing the situation, Sheriff’s Office personnel contacted the county’s Road & Bridge Division, a Sheriff’s Office news alert said. As a result of their survey of the scene, county staff members closed the road to traffic from the 700 block to the 500 block.

As he had explained to the County Commission in the past, Public Works Director Anderson explained during a news media event that a step revetment system was constructed in the affected area around 1990. Approximately 1,600 feet in length, the revetment was made of cement and a mix of shell and sand.

“Over time, it’s been eroding away from environmental factors,” he added during the news conference.

In July 2019, he continued, staff had to repair another section of the road “with somewhat similar damage” to what appeared on June 7, 2020. That area was just a bit north of the June 2020 scene of concerns, he said.

“The sea state was extremely rough over the weekend due to Cristobal,” Anderson stressed.

A county truck on North Casey Key Road gets sprayed by surf on June 8, 2020, thanks to the lingering effects of Tropical Storm Cristobal’s passage through the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

During staff’s assessment of the situation related to Cristobal, Anderson added, the Public Works crew members found “a large void” under the road that was about 2 feet deep and 20 feet long.

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