SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Several surfers catch a single wave
at Twin Piers in Bradenton Beach.
BRADENTON BEACH – A plan is in the works to save three crumbling erosion control groins, including two that form the popular “Twin Piers” surf spot, according to a Manatee County official.
The structures, which are subject to removal in the beach renourishment project planned for 2014, serve an important purpose in protecting Gulf Drive – a hurricane evacuation route – from erosion, according to Charlie Hunsicker, Director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department.
They also provide recreational opportunities for surfers, anglers and divers, who are outspoken advocates to save the structures.
An erosion control project at the Islander Club condo on Longboat Key, due to be completed by spring, may hold the key to saving them, Hunsicker said.
The town is building two adjustable, permeable groins modified from the late engineer Sidney Makepeace Wood’s original design used in building the three structures in Bradenton Beach, said Rick Spadoni of Coastal Planning and Engineering, the beach engineering firm for both Manatee County and Longboat Key.
Making the groins adjustable allows engineers to monitor the accumulation and erosion of sand, and slide panels in and out to fine tune the performance of the structures, he said.
Making them permeable allows some sand to flow through, like mangrove roots, building the beach on the side facing prevailing currents while keeping it from being eroded from the other side, which occurs with solid groins.
Permeable structures appear to be exempt from a state law that allows DEP to require a landowner to alter or remove solid – or impermeable – coastal structures on state sovereign land below the mean high-water line if they serve no public purpose or endanger human life, health or welfare.
The Town of Longboat Key received permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to build the two permeable groins on Longboat Key, Spadoni said.
If the county proposes to rebuild the three Bradenton Beach groins in a similar style, DEP could approve them as well, Hunsicker said.
The county will work on a redesign of the erosion control groins, he said, adding that applying for a permit to replace the structures with pedestrian accessible piers like the one planned at Manatee Public Beach would require more stringent building standards and would likely be unsuccessful.
“We’re hoping DEP will allow the county to refurbish them,” Spadoni said, adding that the agency will require an evaluation of whether the structures are derelict. “There is a purpose for those structures to be there. Gulf Drive is very vulnerable at those locations. That’s a hurricane evacuation route we can’t afford to lose.”