Plumb Beach Renourishment Project and Protection of Belt Parkway, Brooklyn, New York

The Plumb Beach Renourishment Project involved the placement of sand on the beach to protect the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. The project, which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), is ongoing and is being implemented in two phases. In Phase I, the Corps nourished the beach with dredged sand and installed several geotube groins (sand bags) to prevent short-term erosion of the newly-deposited sand. Phase I was completed days before hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast region. Phase II, completed in 2013, involved the construction of two permanent stone groins, a permanent offshore stone breakwater, and the vegetation of receding dunes by the roadside. New York City officials cite the progress as a model for rehabilitating coastlines in the wake of the devastation caused by storm events.

Belt Parkway is a critical piece of infrastructure that forms an important emergency route out of New York City. Highly exposed to the ocean various sections experience flooding during storm surges. Excessive erosion has caused the beach to recede dangerously close the road’s foundations. Erosion also imperils a popular bike path running alongside the road. In 2009, a Nor’easter shrank the beach to within 25 feet of the Belt Parkway in some places. The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYCDPR) issued an emergency contract to install sandbags along the Plumb Beach coastline, and the Corps obtained funding for a feasibility study of long-term improvements. This Project carried out the recommendations proposed in the feasibility study.

Phase I was started and completed in late 2012 days before Hurricane Sandy made landfall. The Army Corps dumped 127,000 cubic yards of dredged sand from the Ambrose Channel onto Plumb Beach, extending it by 100 feet seaward. Long textile bags filled with sand, known as geotube groins, were placed to limit short-term erosion during the time between Phase I and Phase II. Although Phase I provided critical protection for Belt Parkway against Hurricane Sandy, its aims were short-term risk reduction.

Phase II, which was completed over the course of 2013, involved the construction of three permanent stone structures: two stone groins on the eastern and western ends of Plumb Beach, and a permanent stone breakwater. These improvements were designed to mitigate long-term erosion and prevent the need for further renourishment. The groins prevent sand from moving laterally along the beach, while the breakwater diminishes the power of waves. Phase II also involved the creation of vegetated dunes with one-acre of beach grass and the installation of sand fencing to keep sand from blowing onto Belt Parkway.

In planning and implementing the Plumb Beach Project, the Corps recruited an interagency coalition involving the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of State, the National Park Service, NYCDPR, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York City Department of Transportation. Because Plumb Beach combines federal lands, under the jurisdiction of a Gateway National Recreation Area managed by the National Park Service, and city property, stakeholders decided to split the $6.5 million cost of the project: 65 percent comes from federal funding and the balance comes from the City Department of Parks and Recreation.


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on March 17, 2016.


Publication Date: 2013

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