Construction workers using heavy machinery filled Monday a football-field sized hole the Atlantic Ocean eroded from a recently built man-made dune in Gilgo Beach over the weekend, threatening Ocean Parkway, officials said.
The crew had been replenishing the beach at nearby Gilgo Beach State Park with sand dredged from Fire Island Inlet when they started diverting some of the sand to the washout just west of Town of Babylon’s Gilgo Beach pedestrian underpass, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The state is going to use some of the sand we have in the area to sure up [the dune]…and then we’ll go back,” said Chris Gardner, a spokesman for the agency that contracted the beach replenishment work. “We were going to place sand there.”
The eroded piece of 20-foot-wide dune is part of a 5-mile stretch of dune built in a $33-million Sandy recovery project that reopened damaged areas of Ocean Parkway in April.
“The waves kept breaking over and over and over again,” Lauren Nash, an Upton-based National Weather Service meteorologist, said of the swells caused by northeasterly winds spawned from a high pressure system over New York holding back a weak low pressure system to the south that fell short of becoming a nor’easter.
The New York State Department of Transportation partly closed two of the three eastbound lanes of the parkway closest to the water, which reached within 20 feet of the road’s shoulder.
Dump trucks hauled the dredged sand from a staging area about a mile east of the erosion, where pay loaders leveled the piles to begin the process of rebuilding the chunk of dune that washed away less than a year after it had to be rebuilt following the 2012 superstorm.
“It’s concerning,” said Bob Hilbert, owner of the Gilgo Beach Inn, who lives on the north side of the parkway across from the washout. “We’re always losing sand.”