Posted on October 20, 2023
A dredging project near Shinnecock Inlet that kicked off on October 10 was in full swing this week as heavy equipment operators set out to deposit what will eventually be some 80,000 cubic yards of sand on the sand-scoured beach just west of the inlet, at Charles F. Altenkirch County Park.
A bulldozer rumbled along the ocean beach and atop a growing sand pile there, while large bucket loaders and a jumbo dump truck sat nearby the site. A dredge pipe slithered anaconda-like from the bay to the ocean beach.
A dredging machine located on a sandy shoal roughly where the Shinnecock Bay meets the inlet was pumping sand via the temporary dredge pipe that’s now running across the public parking area at the west side of the inlet.
The project being undertaken by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works is expected to be completed within a month, “barring any unforeseen issues,” such as bad weather, according to a press release from the Town of Southampton’s Public Safety and Emergency Management director, Ryan Murphy.
The sand is being dumped to replenish the beach and is also being stockpiled in the county park for future uses in an area that has seen Dune Road get blown out by flooding on multiple occasions in recent years. The eventual plan, said Town Councilman Rick Martel, would see Dune Road raised, but for now the sand will provide a bulwark against future flood events.
This sand-scoured part of the Southampton Town shoreline was recently in the news after a whale that had been buried there earlier this year emerged from its sandy crypt and had to be reburied up the beach. And the area made headlines this week after a commercial dragger sank off the inlet and was towed back through the inlet, where it now rests, half-submerged off of Road I and surrounded by nearby dredge equipment. It’s quite a scene.
The public can still access the area but in a limited manner while the work continues.
Part of the parking lot next to the inlet remains open to the public, though a single-lane access point has been set up over the dredge pipe “to try to preserve access to as much of the parking lot as possible,” Murphy said via the town press release. Visitors to the area are being urged to exercise “extreme caution due to some of these temporary changes.”
The beach itself is closed to pedestrians and four-wheel-drive vehicles while the work is underway, between the inlet and Road I. There’s a temporary fence at Road I that runs to the high-tide mark.
The dredge project, said Murphy, “is an important factor in maintaining the resiliency of the beach area on the west side of the Shinnecock Inlet as we embark on the winter storm season.”