Replenishment work will widen Willoughby, Ocean View beach

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY ) — Work is about to begin on the largest single storm damage reduction project in the City of Norfolk.

Staging equipment will roll into Willoughby Spit and Ocean View Wednesday ahead of a three-month beach replenishment project, which will affect a seven mile stretch from the tip of Willoughby Spit, near the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, to the Little Creek Inlet.

“This is a beach for children to go to with the beautiful sandbars and the beautiful water, ” said Bob Hahne.

Hahne has enjoyed the beauty and encountered the beast of beach living for over 20 years.

“Isabel was a horrible storm. Just wiped out the wetlands here in Ocean View,” he said.

While the wetlands are back, constant erosion has left the people of Ocean View in a vulnerable position. Now, the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Norfolk are getting ready to do something about it. They will truck in 1.2 million cubic yards of sand to make the beach a whole lot bigger.

It will widen the beach to 60 feet and build it up to five feet above the lowest point of the water.

Not everyone likes it.

“I think it’s a waste of taxpayers money,” said Ruth Gordon.

Gordon has been combing these beaches since she was a teenager. She shuns the $34.5 million cost coming out of taxpayers pockets.

“To me, it’s all just going to wash away,” she said.

She is right about that. The Army Corps of Engineers’ plan calls for more sand to be added in nine years, with a total life on this replenishment projected at 50 years.

However, Spokesman Patrick Bloodgood told 10 On Your Side, “It makes more sense economically to replace sand every nine years than to deal with the cost if homes and businesses are destroyed.”

That’s protection Bob Hahne and his neighbors are banking on.

“It’s a little bit overdue and we’re welcome to have it. It’s going to be a great addition to already a fantastic beach.”

The work will begin at the end of the month and will continue around the clock for three months. The Army Corps says parts of the beach will be closed at points. They’ve also promised residents they’ll try to keep the noise contained and move along the beach quickly.