The Piping Plover, a cute endangered bird, is reportedly holding up reconstruction of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk.
Rockaway Beach has been struggling to rebuild their boardwalk, torn up by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, for what seems like an eternity.
The $480 million restoration project has been marked by endless delays and struggles, from high winds threatening cranes to new crane safety restrictions. High winds shut down crane work for 24 days in February, March and April. And after a crane collapse in Tribeca in February killed a pedestrian, restrictions have only gotten stricter.
Though officials cited crane safety restrictions for the delays in construction, they soon revealed another factor — the piping plovers, DNAinfo reports.
Crews have had to stop construction multiple times to work around the birds’ nesting schedule, since there is a moratorium banning construction around the nesting area. Crews are working simultaneously on multiple stretches along the peninsula, prioritizing which sections could use heavy equipment.
The piping plover is a species of endangered birds that nests nearby the boardwalk. According to the Parks Department, the piping plover breeding area includes the beach between Beach 45th and Beach 56th streets, with additional “satellite” sites established on both sides of the main site. They generally breed on beaches and sand flats along the Atlantic coast, making Rockaway Beach an ideal habitat.
The Rockaway Beach boardwalk reconstruction design plans were unanimously approved in early 2014. The plans outlined a designated bike lane, massive lettering spelling out “ROCKAWAY,” and stairs and ramps built with salvaged wood from the old boardwalk, which was partially destroyed by Sandy. At the time, DNAinfo reported that construction would take another three years.
The city’s timeline now slates the opening of 3.5 miles of boardwalk for beach season in July. However, construction for the full 5.5 miles of boardwalk will not be complete until summer 2017, with sections of the boardwalk between Beach 19th and Beach 39th streets to be rebuilt over the fall and winter of 2016-2017.