New Dune Erodes in Gilgo, Threatening Ocean Parkway

A chunk of a newly rebuilt dune protecting Ocean Parkway eroded over the weekend.
A chunk of a newly rebuilt dune protecting Ocean Parkway eroded over the weekend.

A nor’easter south of Long Island churned up Atlantic Ocean waves that eroded a chunk of a newly rebuilt dune in Gilgo Beach, forcing the partial closure of two lanes on Ocean Parkway.

The part of the new 20-foot-wide dune that was washed away was estimated to be the length of a football field, about a half mile west of the Town of Babylon’s Gilgo Beach pedestrian underpass, with waves washing up about 20 feet south of the edge of the roadway.

“Our maintenance forces are going out there to investigate,” said Patricia Audinot, a spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Transportation, which closed two of the three eastbound lanes closest to the erosion for “emergency repairs.”

The state DOT, police, Department of Environmental Conservation and Emergency Management Office responded to the scene after a Babylon town bay constable noticed the erosion Saturday, according to officials at the scene.

The erosion hit in part of a 5-mile stretch of manmade dunes rebuilt as part of a $33-million Sandy recovery project that reopened badly damaged stretches of the oceanfront parkway six months ago.

“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, it’s a feeder beach.”

He noted the ironic timing of the erosion coming as the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers beach replenishment project filling sand dredged from Fire Island Inlet onto Gilgo Beach State Park just east of the town beach.

Workers who responded to the scene expressed frustration that the ocean had taken such a large bite out of the dune just before the first anniversary of the 2012 superstorm that forced them to rebuild the dune just months ago.

“That’s the problem, everybody on the mainland sees the sun and thinks it’s sunny,” said one worker, “but the ocean says it’s a nor’easter.”

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