St. Johns County Celebrates Beach Restoration Project

St. Johns County Celebrates Beach Restoration Project

Governments usually don’t celebrate spending nearly $40 million of public money, but when it comes to part of the area’s major economic driver, it’s another matter.

St. Johns County officials recently held a “sandbreaking” ceremony to kick off the Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration project, according to a county media release.

“This project will help sustain a place that has great impact on our economy and tourism,” County Commissioner Krista Joseph said, in the release. “According to our Visitors and Convention Bureau, 44% of tourists visit St. Johns County for its beautiful beaches, and 76% stay overnight in our hotels, which means they would also eat in our restaurants and shop at our stores. If you come to Florida, you visit the beach, and that’s why this was so important to our county.”

Speakers at the event included Florida Sen. Travis Hutson, Florida House Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, Joseph, St. Johns County Commissioner Henry Dean and St. Johns County Emergency Management Director Joe Giammanco, the release stated.

Once completed, the project will restore storm-damaged dunes and berms to provide storm protection to upland infrastructure with more than two million cubic yards of sand dredged in from the ocean, according to the release. The project will create additional environmental habitat for wildlife, enhance the recreational value of the beach and provide substantial coastline fortifications, including dune reconstruction between 13 and 18 feet, beach berm elevation of eight feet, and beach width increase of 40 to 180 feet post-construction.

The project area stretches from the St. Johns-Duval County line to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve – about nine miles of coastline.

“Following the devastation of the 2016 and 2017 hurricane seasons, the Ponte Vedra community and St Johns County recognized the need to nourish the Ponte Vedra section of the beach,” Giammanco said in the release.  “I can’t tell you how many hours were spent on the planning, design, permitting and finding funding for this project. But I can tell you that when the community, the county, and the state work together to achieve a goal, it can get done.”

According to the release, the project will cost about $38.6 million, approximately $30.6 million of which has come from state legislative funding and grants. The remaining amount is being funded through ounty matching requirements and funding set aside for this project.

St. Johns County has 42 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline. The county manages 32 miles of coastline. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection designates 17.1 miles of the coastline as critically eroded, with an additional 7.6 miles deemed non-critically eroded, the release stated.