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New A1A Options Include Moving It to Central and Daytona Avenues, and 5.2-Mile Sea Wall

| December 15, 2016

a1a dot

Flagler residents got their first look at six proposed options for the future of State Road A1A during an open house by the state Transportation Department at Flagler Beach City Hall Thursday evening. (© FlaglerLive)

Note: The transportation department’s complete presentations and documentation presented at today’s open house in Flagler Beach, and much more, can be seen here.

Send your Comment to DOT: Anyone who wishes to write a comment card, rating the proposed projects and including additional thoughts that will be part of DOT’s analysis, can do so by clicking and printing this comment card and sending it to the address on the sheet. Feel free to also include your comment below: both will resonate with DOT.

Picture State Road A1A no longer running down the shore in Flagler Beach. Picture a bike path there instead, and a walkway. A1A would instead replace Central Avenue, which would become a two-lane state highway.


Or picture A1A eliminated, and instead running one way down Central Avenue, and the other way up Daytona Avenue.

Or picture the existing A1A as a one-way road, with the other way running down Central Avenue.

Or picture the old A1A back the way it was before Hurricane Matthew ravaged it, but shifted as much west as rights-of-way allow, and with a seawall running the length of the shore, 5.2 miles’ worth, with sand covering the wall to make it look like a dune.  

Those and two more were among the six options that the Florida Department of Transportation proposed as long-term fixes for A1A in Flagler Beach in a well-attended open house Thursday evening at Flagler Beach City Hall.

The two other options include doing nothing but restoring the old A1A, without a sea wall, or rebuilding A1A as it was before Matthew, without shifting it west, but with a sea wall.

Actually, three of the six options the transportation department is proposing include building a 5.2-mile sea wall, which has so far been anathema to the Flagler Beach  City Commission, the Flagler County Commission, the U.S. Corps of Engineers, and Sen. Bill Nelson, who just secured more than $15 million in federal funding to “renourish” Flagler’s beaches with dredged up sand—as long as no sea wall is built: if a sea wall is built, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would be in charge of beach renourishment, is out.

And two of the three other options, which would have either all of A1A’s traffic, or half of it, shifted to Central Avenue, seem to be non-starters: the population of Flagler Beach along Central Avenue would revolt, not wanting that kind of traffic zipping by their front yard. Parts of Central Avenue experienced some of that when a 1.2-mile stretch of A1A was shut down after Matthew partly demolished it. The reaction among residents there was not happy.

The Corps is out already: the transportation department invited corps officials to the open house. None showed up (at least none did so officially), though some 290 people had turned up for the open house, with one hour yet to go.  

 


A1A After The Sorm

Tom Hury, a seventh-generation Floridian who’s lived in Flagler Beach for 16 years, and lives on Central Avenue, was shaking his head by the end of a brief, looping audiovisual presentation of the transportation department’s proposals that kept playing during the open house.

“I was shaking my head because there were lots of options and it was a tough decision to decide which option would be best,” Hury said. “Living on Central Avenue, I was not thrilled with the three options that were moving A1A to Central Avenue or Daytona Avenue. I would have tons of traffic.” The size of the two avenues would not make those viable options, he said. He thought of the option to bury a sea wall as protection for the road, keeping A1A where it is. But he’s aware of the conflict between the transportation department and the Corps of Engineers on that score, and he’s not keen on losing the chance to have beach renourishment.

“If you can bury the sea wall, which would give the protection of the highway, do a beach renourishment plan that is ongoing so that we don’t run the risk of the beach completely eroding into the sea wall and have no beach left, would certainly be a viable plan. Most people fear that a sea wall leads to additional erosion and we would eventually lose the beach altogether, and I think you see that down in some of the areas of New Smyrna Beach.”

The transportation department is not calling it a “sea wall” anymore. It’s favoring a different description: a “buried retaining wall,” with the words “buried” intended to seem less intrusive than a visible, ugly sea wall, and the words “retaining wall” sounding more like a familiar highway structure than an attempt to outwit nature. Or people.


A wall divides the DOT’s favored approach from that of the U.S. Corps of Engineers.


Sharon Adre, once a member of the Beach Management Committee organized in line with the Corps of Engineers’ beach renourishment studies, was not fooled. “No wall. No wall,” she said, standing by the transportation department’s maps at the open house. “We’ve gone through a lot of hoops to get sand. We want a beach,” Andre said, referring to the renourishment plan. “Everyone that lives in Flagler Beach wants a beach.” She adds: “They’re calling it a retaining wall now, they’re not calling it a sea wall, because they know no one wants a sea wall.”

None of the options is cheap, including what the transportation department calls the “no action” option. It’s a misnomer: no action still means reconstructing A1A back to its original location, at a cost of $10.1 million in current estimates. That would be the cheapest option, at least in the short run. The transportation department projects high recurring costs, high emergency repair costs, little protection for A1A from future damage, but also no impact on the Corps’ plan to renourish the beach.

Rebuilding the existing A1A with a sea wall along 5.2 miles of shore, what would be Option 1 in the department’s list (see below), would cost $145.5 million. It would have low recurring and emergency repair costs, but only as far as the transportation department is concerned. It would have very high recurring costs for the beach, if the Corps were even interested in still dumping sand there, because instead of renourishment taking place in 11-year cycles, it would have to take place in five-year cycles, says County Engineer Faith al-Khatib. Amy Sirmans, the transportation department’s project development engineer, agreed: the planting of a sea wall would in fact accelerate erosion, requiring more frequent renourishment, she said, “based on the Army Corps study. There was modeling done.”

But no one knows who would renourish the beach every five years, or with what money. “We at DOT didn’t have a cost yet for beach renourishment,” Sirmans said. “So any of the options that have a wall, we listed as ‘high’ for beach renourishment costs. If they don’t have a wall, it’s ‘medium,’ because we know either way it needs to be renourished.”

None of the options explicitly mention climate change, but the options that have A1A shifted to Central and Daytona Avenue are at least an implicit acknowledgment that rising sea levels may eventually force the issue.

“The fact that the road was built on the dunes is the problem we’re dealing with,” Frank O’Dea, the transportation department’s director of development, said. “The road was built on a dune, and regardless of what is happening with climate change, this road has been a challenge for us because of this. We know dunes move. Beaches move. And so they’re continually going to be a challenge. But moving A1A off the dune would have a significant impact on the community, and probably the feedback we’ve been getting is that impact is unacceptable to many members of the community.”

dot open house

Some 290 people had turned up for the open house, with an hour to go. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

A cursory look at 10 of the many comment sheets turned in by members of the public make his point: seven of the 10 responses listed either the first or second option as favored approaches—rebuilding A1A as it was, or rebuilding it with a sea wall, but not shifting it west.  But several of those comment sheets also stressed the need for saving the beach and renourishment.

That reveals a recurring split in the way the issue is perceived. To the public, and particularly to residents of Flagler Beach—as those comment cards show—there is no difference between rebuilding and protecting the road, and renourishing and protecting the beach: the two are part of the same needs and goals that make Flagler Beach what it is.

But that’s not how the government agencies see it, because their missions dictate a split. The transportation department’s mission is to build and protect roads, not beaches. The department’s priority is A1A, its studies are focused on A1A, its spending will be focused on A1A—not the beach. That’s the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ venue, and the Corps, in turn, is not interested in the road. To the contrary: what may protect the road, such as a sea wall, is what would harm the beach, and by extension the Corps’ work, so the Corps is adamantly opposed to transportation department plans that would, in effect, undermine the Corps’.

Whether the two agencies can work together on a mutually beneficial plan is in question, when the means to their ends are almost diametrically opposed. That conflict was not addressed at the open house.

Nor were issues of cost, even regarding the transportation department’s projects. With the six proposals ranging in cost from $10 million to $222 million, the question was asked, cost could end up dictating an option as much as public sentiment. And it’s not yet clear how Flagler ranks in the state.

“It’s impossible to say, because we have thousands of projects,” O’Dea said, though he notes: “This type of project is a little different from the standpoint that it’s not like a capacity project or something out of our normal work program. This we have to do something with, regardless, because we’re in that kind of emergency situation. So from that end something will happen. It’s a little different than trying to say that this is going to compete against the widening of a road somewhere else. It won’t.”

The transportation department wants to have a recommendation out of these six options by early 2017. It would then seek more public input on whatever option it chooses, then seek out money to get the project done. That’s usually made up of state dollars and federal dollars, Steve Olson, a transportation department spokesman, said. Overall Florida’s state road projects tend to be funded at a ratio of 75 percent state funds, 25 percent federal funds. But ratios apply differently on specific projects.

The transportation department’s complete presentations and documentation presented at today’s open house, and much more, can be seen here. The six options are outlined in full below, with costs and other assumed consequences.  

Click here to see a larger view of the Florida Department of Transportation’s Six Options for A1A.

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37 Responses for “New A1A Options Include Moving It to Central and Daytona Avenues, and 5.2-Mile Sea Wall”

  1. Seen It and Heard it before says:

    Those Flagler beach bums will fight every option out there in order to preserve their perceived sandy paradise.
    Even if it means they end up like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Hudson at the end of the movie Titanic. The government should have quietly fixed this. Now all they’ve done is stir up a hornets nest of fake nature loving whiners who love to flaunt their trophy beach.

  2. DaveT says:

    An interesting “open house”. What amazes me is we caused this mess ourselves by building a road on a dune. And regardless what occurs to fix this, mother nature will take it back. Be it a seawall, rocks, dune restoration, moving the road, the existing road will one day disappear and with it the possible destruction of business and homes that reside on the other side of the road. Its just a matter of time.

    Dunes save beaches from eroding away. When a storm comes, they stop the surge from pushing too far inland. And when the foul weather abates, smaller waves and weaker winds restore the berms. “The bigger the sand supply and dunes, bigger protection you have and more severe storm you can tolerate,

    Matthew was a wake up call, but a seawall is not the answer.

  3. JohnX says:

    Probably leaving it like it is now is the cheapest and best option. And let the corps build the dunes.

  4. Sherry says:

    It’s amazing how those that may live in Flagler county, but do not actually have a home or business on the island, continue to cavalierly chime in on what should be done to our houses and businesses.

    It seems as though those who do not live here think that we are all 1% ers (Billionaires) who should just pick up and move from our personal homes and businesses because we can just write a check from “petty cash” and buy another one tomorrow. Of course, that is simply ridiculous! What is going on here? Do I hear negativity from those who are resentful or envious? How very pitiful! Does it make you feel better when others have difficulty? Just how sick is that?

  5. r&r says:

    John X has a great solution which is makes the most sense and less expensive.

  6. Fred says:

    Build the dunes……they will come !!!!

  7. Veteran says:

    Building a main road next to the ocean – dumb!

  8. larry krasner says:

    By process of elimination, there is only one viable option.

    Option 1, to rebuild A1A as it was, would cost about $10 million. Option 2, to build a seawall of some kind, would cost about $140 million. That is 14 times as much as Option 1. Think of that as needing 14 Hurricane Matthews to justify the cost. The last Category 3 (or higher) to hit the city from the ocean was 50 years ago, so that ROI wouldn’t be achieved for 700 years. Option 1 will cost more when the expense of periodic sand dune renourishment is figured in, but that’s pocket change by comparison.

    Options 3, 4 and 5 will never work. Any attempt to make A1A two one-way streets or make Central and Daytona into a new A1A will ruin the quality of life for all those residents, destroy their property values (and city’s tax rolls) and wind up in court forever. Not to mention they would turn Oceanshore Blvd. into a ghost town and ruin all those businesses that depend on A1A traffic and pay so much of our property taxes.

    Option One is the only solution that is acceptable to the neighborhood and fiscally reasonable.

  9. Rick Belhumeur says:

    There are two things that make Flagler Beach unique… No buildings between A1-a and the ocean giving panoramic views from the street and It’s resistance to change. Don’t expect either of them to change for many lifetimes!

  10. JasonB says:

    Doesn’t matter what you do or how much money you throw at it, global warming will render the whole thing moot in a hundred years or so.

  11. brian says:

    exactly JONX

  12. Dave says:

    Move A1A west to Central and Daytona, I love it, finaly people talking sense

  13. tulip says:

    If I understand it correctly, the seawall would NOT be above street level. If this is so, then having a sea wall wouldn’t block anyone’s view of the ocean at all, so I don’t see where there would be an aesthetic problem with views from homes, cars driving by and businesses.

  14. Dave says:

    Rick there will still be no high buildings blocking the sun from the beach. Which is what made Flagler unique. Panoramic views would still be available. Would people rather have the ocean take their beachfront homes? Or deal with traffic on their road? Your gonna have to make a choice.

  15. KarenJ says:

    I also agree with JohnX. Put A1A back where it was and let the Army Corps of Engineers replenish the dunes. The dune replenishment is already funded …something that no one at the A1A meeting yesterday seemed to be aware of. Very strange…… And the Army Corp of Engineers was conspicuously absent.

  16. dave corfman says:

    Agree with several. Repair A1A and do the beach renourishment. That is the most economical over the short and long term. We can do quite a few rebuilds and renourishment projects before we come close to the other alternatives.

  17. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Dave, panoramic views from Central and Daytona Avenues? Impossible.

  18. DaveT says:

    All I know there are too many Dave’s.

  19. Sherry says:

    Larry Krasner. . . you are right on! Natural coquina boulders and beach sand renourishment is the most logical, environmentally friendly and cost effective way to go.

    For those who think granite boulders or a sea wall is a great idea. . . please understand that it is common knowledge that sea walls often actually destroy beaches by speeding up erosion! Waves lapping against hard surfaces can create an actual circular digging motion! The results of such walls can be seen all over Europe, and it isn’t pretty! There’s plenty of research to be had on the internet, for example: http://wlrn.org/post/sea-walls-designed-save-beaches-may-actually-speed-erosion

  20. dave corfman says:

    Karrin is correct. The money for the beach renourishment is already approved. So go with that and put the rest back the way it was. There really is alot of Daves. lol

  21. downinthelab says:

    Picture the whole barrier island accessible only by boat, The high tide sometimes washes over the whole thing. No one lives there except for the tidal wading birds.

  22. DaveT says:

    Washington State Park & the Summer Haven neighborhood had most if not all of their huge coquina boulders washed away. It helped for a little while but , not enough. Nothing will stop mother nature.

  23. The Ghost of America says:

    Building a1a as it was is foolish and short sighted, but I expect that from people that haven’t experienced regular hurricanes. It punts the issue down the line until the next major storm, which might be next year or might be in 50.

  24. Dave says:

    No Rick not from central and Daytona, you may have to walk a few feet the side walk.

  25. dave corfman says:

    GOA. maybe a thought 50 years ago. A little too late at this point. A town this size couldnt withstand the financial impact of a major change. Tax base would be gone. just imagine bike week with Central as the artery? Yep, never come close to happening in our lifetimes. Just have to suck it up and work with what we have. Looks to be the desired path. one i personally agree with.

  26. no says:

    Everyone’s an expert now. Also rip rap is not a wall how is that being logical. I’m an actual civil engineer. Put a bulkhead and hide it with sand. There was a small piece already there that nobody seems to be mentioning.

  27. Tim O'Neil says:

    Rebuild A1A as little as possible and let the allocated beach restoration funds be used while they still exist. We live on a barrier island. Matthew was a 100 year storm event for this area. Let’s don’t overact, just get us back to normal. PS how are we going to replace the 55 destroyed beach stairs walk downs?
    Merry Christmas. 2017 has to be a better year for all of us.

  28. Sherry says:

    The highly rusted, and unsightly piece of road support put in by the DOT a couple of years ago is actually dangerous in that sharp shards of rusted metal immediately began flaking off and washing all over the beach. What brainy engineer came up with the idea of “metal” supporting a structure adjacent to the ocean?
    We need NO MORE of that kind of engineering solution, thank you!

  29. Dave says:

    Dave C , why would central not work for bike week. I’m not sure I understand your point. I personally would be happy to see bike week go away, but I’m sure that won’t happen. It’s a road,jus like A1A was a road ,no different

  30. Anonymous says:

    I say rebuild it where it is. To move A1A to the streets Daytona and or Flagler will adversely affect those residents. They will then be living on a major roadway over a back street. That would inturn make it a commercial property along that NEW road.

  31. palmcoaster says:

    I do not own a water front home or business along A1A in Flagler Beach but I sure enjoy driving the ocean front view and seating for a meal and drink ocean front and as such I vote that A1A is repaired an rebuild as it was before Mathews and NO seawall but natural dunes. We are all talking about cost here…? are we all brainwashed into let the government keep on taking our hard earned taxes to serve us, away from doing that and instead waste increasingly more in foreign aid, foreign wars and in bringing political refugees with all expenses paid plus all the tax loops to avoid paying billions to rich corporations?
    We all sure pay enough taxes to have A1A repaired and rebuild after an every 11 years storm…we are talking here 15 millions to preserve the ocean view for millions of visitors and residents day in and day out when a new aircraft to be sent to fight foreign wars for other peoples so called democracies in remote lands cost 564 millions each or more..?https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=cost+of+each+new+stealth+plane. Have we lost our sanity while accepting cheap work government proposed decisions in the services we pay and are not being rendered?

  32. Billy O says:

    The dune project is not funded it’s just been authorized. It is unlikely this money will come. To Flagler. Please do your homework.

  33. dave corfman says:

    someone beat me to it. As it exists, you only currently impact the people on the west side of the street. Central would have to impose easements further back as it isnt wide enough currently. Just commercial traffic would be a challenge. But that aside, the zoning would change those areas to commercial. And unless you have business to step in quick, poof there goes your tax base or those residents would have to be bought out. Dont see that happening.
    Then you have to figure out what to do with the businesses already on A1A. Who would pay to move them? They arent about to move quickly or easily. Court battles into the next 20 years.

  34. Rick Belhumeur says:

    No one has said anything about displacing all of the businesses on a1-a by moving it to central. We will never allow the commercialization of our residential streets.

  35. no says:

    All I hear is talk and stories and nothing to back it up. Also most people wanting it on Central have property they want to sell. To them that is the best choice. Obviously they need to coat the steel with something before placing them. Get trump to build the wall!

  36. Kim says:

    I would like to know the potential impact of each option on the nesting of sea turtles. I have heard that a sea wall will destroy the beach to the point that turtles will no longer be able to dig a nest when they return.

  37. Brad says:

    This is stupid just move A1A to John Anderson, and we done will all this rigamarole.

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