Suffolk County crews are constructing a 750-foot-long rock wall along the Shinnecock Bay waterfront, just east of Hampton Bays, to protect the stretch of Montauk Highway where Hurricane Sandy battered the road’s protective bulkhead and undermined its bed this fall.
The new revetment, which should be completed this week, was constructed from an estimated 600 tons of stone. Another 600 tons of sand will be deposited seaward of the revetment to restore the natural beach, according to Suffolk County Department of Public Works spokeswoman Lori Baldassare.
The crews have constructed most of the rock revetment and will truck in the sand this week. The project, when completed, is expected to cost $70,000.
Storm surge and wind-driven waves battered beaches along the northern and western shores of Shinnecock Bay shoreline during Hurricane Sandy. In places where there were flat bulkheads, like those protecting the stretch of Montauk Highway that runs directly along the waterfront, the narrow ribbon of sand beach was largely erased.
The waves splintered the bulkhead and washed away some of the earth beneath paved areas of the highway’s shoulder. Ms. Baldassare said that no parts of the two-lane road or its shoulder were compromised and that the project to shore up the bulkhead did not include any work to the roadway itself.
The work was done without the approval of the Southampton Town Trustees, who regulate construction along the bay and ocean shorelines and have generally prohibited the construction of rock revetments and bulkheads as protective measures over the last 20 years.
Town Trustee Ed Warner Jr. said this week that the county did not ask the Trustees’ permission, though it did get an emergency permit for the work from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
“They sort of did it on the QT,” Mr. Warner said. “They said it was an emergency project because the governor and [County Executive] Steve Bellone deemed that it is a vital travel route for [evacuating] the South Fork.”
Mr. Warner added that the Trustees did receive a letter informing them that the work was going to be done.
He also noted that most of the new rocks were placed on top of the existing foundation of the roadway and should not have an impact on the dynamics of the shoreline in the area. And, Mr. Warner added, the recently repaved roadway was in imminent danger of being severely damaged by erosion.
“I don’t have a particular problem with it myself—everything is well upland and the storm washed away most of the beach to the east of there so you can drive along there anyway,” Mr. Warner said. “But it would have been nice if they had called us and said ‘what do you guys think?’ before they just went to work.”