Just shy of two years, work on the new groins on Cortez Beach is finally complete.
“It was a 2015 New Year’s Day present when we began the project and followed up by a 2017 New Year’s present that we have completed the work,” said Charlie Hunsicker, the county’s parks and natural resources director.
Work on the new groins at Cortez Beach began in 2015 but was delayed several times, causing the completion date to be pushed back. Groins are pier-like structures that jut out into the Gulf of Mexico to help hold beach sand in place. The three groins that were replaced are along Gulf Drive South at Sixth Street South, 10th Street South and just south of 13th Street South.
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The new groins are “standing firm like a Rock of Gibraltar,” Hunsicker said.
“By holding the sand to the beach, it provides immediate protection to the shore and the public infrastructure behind it including underground waterlines and waste water lines, which if they break, you’ve seen the results across this country in sinkhole reports even as nearby as St. Pete and Charlotte County,” he said.
These solid structures appear just as they should be strong structures to prevent erosion.
Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County parks and natural resources director
Completed by Cayo LLC of Fort Worth, Texas, the $6.8 million project was funded partially by Tourist Development Taxes and partially by Florida Department of Environment Protection grants, which were approved by the Legislature.
“Our project was ranked highly enough to receive funding support through the state’s beach management program,” Hunsicker said.
The new groins replace “the clearly unsound and unsafe former structures that were there that had seen the wear and tear dramatically since the no name storm of 1984 and storms since,” Hunsicker said.
“That is not the postcard you want to put together for new and returning visitors,” he said. “We believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. These solid structures appear just as they should be strong structures to prevent erosion.”
The new groins, which have a lifespan of at least 50 years, are permeable and adjustable “to allow more or less water and sand to pass between the piers to overcome the previous difficulties with fixed structure,” Hunsicker said.
“With these groins and their sister groins in Longboat Key, adjustments can be made to the superstructure underneath the deck to account for changing conditions and keep the amount of sand based under or through the structure in balance to maintain a good shoreline between them,” he said.
No fishing, swimming or diving signs are posted on the new groins, Hunsicker said.
“We hope that folks will respect the signage so that a sunset or two can be enjoyed by all,” he said.