Coalition paying close attention to FEMA berm project


The recently approved FEMA emergency berm project by the St. John’s County Board of County Commissions was a major talking point during the Ponte Vedra Beaches Coalition meeting on June 29.

Coalition board member Vicki Corlazzoli provided those in attendance with updates on the project.

According to Corlazzoli, some residents have been concerned that the project may raise the height of the dunes. However, she eased those worries by stating that the details of the project specify that the dunes will not be higher than the current crest, which is 13 to 15 feet.

The project will require 380,000 cubic yards of sand to be hauled to the Ponte Vedra portion of the project from a source located in Keystone Heights, which was estimated during the meeting to be about 19,000 trips over the length of the planned 76-day project.

Despite the increase of heavy-loaded traffic, Corlazzoli said no questions were asked about the impact that extra wear and tear could have on the local roadways being used during the county town hall she attended on June 22.

She assured attendees that she would look into it and try to have a answer at the next Coalition meeting on July 26.

Once the project starts in September, Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park will be closed weekdays but open on weekends.

A traffic plan will be implemented that will include lane closures and detours through the length of the project as well.

According to Coalition president Lisa Johnson Cook, who has owned beachfront houses, in the past homeowners have had to pay for dune upkeep, so FEMA stepping in to aid is not typical.

The reason FEMA is getting involved is because they classify the dune situation as an “emergency” project that needs to be handled as a top priority.

The damage to the dunes still stems from the impacts felt along the shoreline from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Corlazzoli stressed to the Coalition crowd that the project’s contractors have listed the safety of beachgoers as something they are very cognizant of.

An example of this includes the use of police escorts to transport the trucks hauling sand on the beach to the work site within easements that will have been placed.

Johnson mentioned that one of the more confusing aspects people in the community were having trouble with was that some were under the impression that the restoration projects going on up and down the beach were linked to the berm project.

Corlazzoli clarified that the two projects are separate from one another.