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Budget conference: More beach restoration money for Ponte Vedra

Posted on March 4, 2024

Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson look likely to score new money for more St. Johns County sand.

The state appears poised to spend millions of dollars more on beach restoration in St. Johns County, as Northeast Florida locals continue to try to stave off storm erosion and sea level rise.

The Senate has matched the House $4.75 million bump offer on the Ponte Vedra project championed by two term limited Republicans from the county: Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson.

Per the Senate funding request, this project will offer “a long-term protective solution to the progressive deterioration of South Ponte Vedra Beach (R-76 to R-102.5), which continues to be eroded by wind, waves, and inundation caused by coastal storms.”

“As a result of the proposed beach nourishment project, an engineered beach with a vegetated dune system will be constructed to protect private property and vulnerable ecosystems, and to sustain recreation and tourism opportunities,” the request added.

People who made the arguably risky decision to buy property on barrier islands, described as “a constantly changing deposit of sand that forms parallel to the coast” by the National Ocean Service, will also get help via “protection of State Road A1A, the only evacuation route for about 6,000 residents on the barrier island.”

The money will match $9.975 million in federal funds and an additional $3.325 million in other state funding, per the request, which is likely to be just the latest appropriation to fortify the water’s edge.

Two substantial portions of the shoreline will undergo restoration work nearly simultaneously beginning in March. One of those will be a $38.6-million project paid for by mostly state funds in the county’s northern areas in the Ponte Vedra Beach area.

Another beach restoration project will be launched next month on the shoreline of the main St. Augustine Beach area, running from near Anastasia State Park through St. Augustine Beach to A Street. That is just south of the St. Augustine Beach Pier. The project will require $33 million in federal funds.

The Ponte Vedra Beach restoration project will run a nine-mile distance from the northern reaches of St. Johns from the Duval County Line south through Ponte Vedra residential and resort areas into the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The northern St. Johns County beach renourishment project was approved for contractor Weeks Marine. It will involve placing more than 2 million cubic yards of new sand dredge onto the beaches and dune replenishment. The project is expected to be completed in October.

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