Flagler County and city officials inaugurated the formal opening of the $12.3 million pedestrian bridge over State Road 100, five years in the making, with speeches and a dedicatory run by the Flagler Palm Coast High School track team. But its leading champion, Faith al-Khatib, was absent.
Tourist Development Council
The joint local government committee of county and city representatives that met for the second time approached at arm’s length Palm Coast City Council member Theresa Pontieri’s proposal that Palm Coast annex into the city the county beach and access at Malacompra Road.
In what one of the designers of Flagler Beach’s new pier described as “a big milestone in the federal regulatory process,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued notice that it is reviewing the permit application for the new pier, and soliciting public comment about detailed construction plans that had not been disclosed until now.
The just-completed A-frame pedestrian bridge over State Road 100 has turned into a recurring joke and a legitimate traffic concern that the county is addressing. But some officials see an opportunity in the bad publicity the bridge is attracting, because with it comes tourist interest and a potential marketing coup.
Flagler County Engineering has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Transportation to combine two projects to expedite restoration of a larger section of dunes south of the Pier in a more cost-effective manner.
Less than two weeks from a scheduled trial date, Flagler Beach resident Cynthia d’Angiolini this afternoon signed the two easements the county has been seeking for three years and that will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild and maintain 2.6 miles of dunes south of the pier, unimpeded, for the next half century.
Flagler County’s future visitor center got its biggest boost today on two grounds: The County Commission all but approved locating the center on State Road 100, next to the future pedestrian bridge and heritage trail. And it approved contributing an additional $500,000 as a local match for a hoped-for $8 million federal grant to build the center.
With repair costs pegged at $2 million over 14 months and dangerous collapses possible, the Flagler Beach City Commission agreed to condemn the rickety pier and wall it off, accelerating a demolition schedule in preparation for the construction of a $15 to $18 million, 800-foot concrete pier that could be completed in late 2025.
While Flagler County was spared the brunt of Hurricane Ian’s fury, its shoreline was ravaged, and what remained of its already battered dunes and rock revetments sacrificed themselves to protect A1A and properties. There is no more protection should another storm strike. The disappearance of the dunes is stunning in Flagler Beach north of the pier, and in many other places along the 18 miles of beach.
The most comprehensive study to date about Flagler County’s beaches paints a stark picture of the consequences of climate change and sea level rise, accelerating erosion, potentially crushing costs to local taxpayers to slow down the erosion with beach renourishment, and few sources of funding to do so.