The United States Army Corps of Engineers – Elders Point Salt Marsh Mitigation

Posted in Environmental Services

This fifteen million dollar project involved coordination with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Port Authority of NY and NJ, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Nation Park Service and consisted of moving 162,000 cubic yards of sand from its stockpile on Floyd Bennett Field through over 3 miles of pipeline, with the help of two booster pumps, to Elders Point East Island in the middle of Jamaica Bay. The sand had been dredged from the Rockaway Inlet as part of the NY-NJ Harbor Deepening Project with Elders Point acting as a mitigating element. The island was ringed by a system of coir log structures that were put in place to avoid undue losses of sand that was pumped into the island. The coir logs themselves, in the interest of keeping the project as environmentally friendly as possible, were made from coconut fibers and completely biodegradable. Once the sand was in place at the island, a Caterpillar D6 Dozer equipped with a GPS sensor that had the contour plans inputted was able to grade the sand to within half of an inch of the specified grade. After the sand was graded, 670,000 plants were installed within a 3 month accelerated time schedule to make sure that they were planted before the planting season ended. If the contractor failed to do so, they would face heavy liquidated damages. The stringent requirements were so intimidating that at bid time Galvin Brothers, Inc. was the only contractor to have the wherewithal to submit a bid. One rival contractor, a Fortune 500 company with 22,000 employees and nearly 5 billion and annual revenues, sent in a letter expressing interest but declining to bid, citing the impossibility of successful completion within the required schedule. This work continued with Elders Point West which consisted of the same idea but with a different approach. Although the same agencies were present, GBI also worked in conjunction with Great Lakes Dock & Dredge, who were responsible for the dredging aspect of the project. Although the two companies had no contractual relationship, they worked together in order to have the two contracts dovetail so the project progressed seamlessly. As GLDD’s dredge pumped the sand to the island, GBI would push the material out to expand the small existing island’s acreage. Once there was enough area, existing hummocks (native plant material) was harvested and then replanted so that they would expand naturally. Additionally, a number of wetlands plugs and shrubs were planted to retain the sand. Both Elders Point East and West were extremely successful as the first steps towards the remediation and mitigation of Jamaica Bay with the Elders Point projects winning the Coastal America Spirit Award awarded by the Coastal America Awards Program, consisting of a partnership between 12 federal agencies.