Major flood risk management project kicks off on Long Island

New York state officials, along with the Army Corps and project partners, gathered recently at Fire Island Lighthouse to mark the start of construction works for a major coastal-storm risk-management scheme – the Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Project.

This $1.7 billion project which includes a variety of features will reduce flood risk for Long Islanders along vulnerable areas of 83 miles of coastline in Suffolk County from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point.

“The long and winding road to realize the massive and impactful Fire Island to Montauk Point project took decades to travel and ends here with many miles of fortified dunes and berms, beach renourishment, back bay protections and funds to raise thousands of homes,” said Senator Charles Schumer.

New York District Commander Col. Matthew Luzzatto stated, “This project represents another step in the process of increasing coastal resiliency throughout our Area of Responsibility as we’ve done in multiple communities such as Coney Island, Long Beach, Fire Island to Montauk Inlet, and East Rockaway, where work is currently ongoing. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District personnel, and our federal, state, and local partners are committed to executing this historic civil works initiative as we continue to work hand in hand to address the region’s toughest challenges.”

Governor Kathy Hochul said, “The FIMP project will safeguard Suffolk County communities from severe storms and sea level rise, essential for preserving Long Island’s treasured natural resources for future generations. I applaud the sustained, collaborative work of State, Federal, and local partners in achieving this significant milestone, and I look forward to continue working together to protect Long Island’s coastline from the effects of extreme weather brought on by climate change.”

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The contractor for the Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) project is Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC.

Stage one of the FIMP dredging project involves removing over 1.5 million cubic yards of sand from Fire Island Inlet and strategically placing it on updrift and downdrift beaches to reduce erosion and strengthen coastal resiliency.

Approximately 802,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed along Gilgo Beach and 716,000 on Robert Moses State Park, respectively. This contract also includes the construction of coastal process features in Robert Moses State Park which are designed to enhance piping plover habitats.

Major project elements include:

  • Structure elevations and building retrofits for approximately 4,400 structures in areas subject to high-frequency flooding;
  • A four-pronged Breach Response Plan for barrier islands evaluating potential actions for breaches resulting from severe storms and tidal surges;
  • Beach and dune fill on shorefronts, with renourishment approximately every four years for up to 30 years after project completion;
  • Inlet bypassing at the federal navigation channels;
  • Removal of existing groins/jetties at Ocean Beach on Fire Island;
  • Feeder beach construction at Montauk Beach. (A feeder beach is an artificially widened beach that nourishes down-drift beaches).

Historically, Long Island’s barrier islands and south shore mainland communities in Suffolk County have been battered by severe storms. In fact, The State of New York has been impacted by 84 tropical or subtropical cyclones since the 17th century. In addition to Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that eroded nearly 45 percent of beach sediment in some areas, the worst occurred during the 1930’s – before hurricanes were given names.

Over the years, the New York District has been restoring damaged areas of Suffolk County’s coastlines. Most recently, from 2014-19, the Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Inlet (FIMI) Project provided an expedited approach to construct a stabilization effort independent of FIMP. A one-time initial construction project to repair damages caused by Hurricane Sandy, seven million cubic yards of sand was placed on the shoreline and several miles of protective dunes were built.

The New York District will lead construction efforts in concert with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the non-federal sponsor, in cooperation with Suffolk County, the Towns of Babylon, Islip, Brookhaven, Southampton and Easthampton. The Army Corps will also work closely with the National Park Service (NPS), Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ─ each are important partners ensuring protection of endangered species and environmental sensitivity along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline.

Photo: USACE