Norfolk coastline gets $18 million boost

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A new partnership signed last month between the city of Norfolk and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Norfolk District will address protecting seven miles of Norfolk coastline from the impact of coastal storms. According to a city press release, the partnership is unprecedented in the city’s 333-year history.

“The sea level fight starts right here, right now, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Colonel Paul Olson with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a press conference in Norfolk Monday.

The new project, called the Willoughby Spit and Vicinity project, will add 60 feet of coastline to about seven miles of city beaches. According to a city press release, will improve “shoreline and adjacent land area extending along the Chesapeake Bay from the eastern limit at the jetties of Little Creek Inlet to the western limit at the tip of Willoughby Spit.”

“This marks Norfolk’s single largest investment to date in our beaches,” Mayor Paul Fraim said at the press conference. He said it’s also the first time the federal government is paying more than the city to preserve the coast. The total cost of the project is about $18.5 million. Fraim said Norfolk will pay about 35 percent, or $5.5 million, but the U.S. government will pay for 65 percent.

“Today we sign an historic agreement between the city of Norfolk and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that provides a long-term solution to shoreline protection of our Ocean View beaches,” Fraim said.

However, the project is far from permanent. It will update replenishment work that done about 20 years ago, according to Col. Olson. He said this new project will only last between a 10 and 20 years, depending on the severity of storms that strike. Still, he calls coastlines sacrificial barriers that are much cheaper than sea walls, like the you see in Virginia Beach.

“Beaches can be seen a buffers for our coast. In a way, they’ll take the surges of storms and breakdown the waves to keep them from crashing into the land or into the buildings,” Col. Olson said.

The project is set to start in November, so as not to interfere with sea turtle season, and will wrap up in May 2016.

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