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The sand restoration project got underway so Rockaway Beach can be fully opened in time for the start of the summer swim season.

The dredging operation that will restore the sand along a popular stretch of Rockaway Beach got underway this week with work vessels moving into position in the East Rockaway Inlet.

The sand that is dredged during needed maintenance in the navigation channel will pump the sand two and a half miles farther west where bulldozers are waiting to replenish the sand from Beach 92nd to Beach 103rd streets. The city was forced to close the stretch last year just days ahead of the summer swim season due to beach erosion that had created unsafe conditions for beachgoers.

“It’s happening! Equipment is on the move, and work is starting that will restore the previously closed stretch of Rockaway Beach in time for summer,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “The summer wouldn’t be the same for the community and for families across the city without this work.”

The submersible pipes are being installed in the ocean from East Rockaway Inlet west to Beach 87th Street, where the pipeline will come out of the Atlantic at Beach 88th Street. Dredging will commence April 8 and barring and severe spring storms, work will be completed before June 1, which is the beginning of hurricane season.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ equipment is a welcome sight for the community eager to have this key stretch of Rockaway Beach open in time for the season,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “Last year’s nor’easters were devastating for Rockaway, not just for beachgoers, but the businesses who make their year’s income during the summer months. By restoring the sand and moving forward with final approvals for erosion controls and flood reductions, we are not just restoring Rockaway, we’re reinforcing it.”

The closure last summer hurt restaurants and bars in the neighborhood such as Connolly’s, Community House, Thai Rock, Uma’s and Bungalow Bar.

“Having sand brought into Rockaway Beach from the East Rockaway dredging will be a major boost for not only the stretch of beaches that were closed last summer due to erosion, but for Rockaway residents, businesses and tourists as well,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “I look forward towards long-term solutions to protect the people and businesses of Rockaway from future storms.”

In 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers placed 3.5 million cubic yards of sand on Rockaway Beach following Superstorm Sandy but infrastructure was never constructed to keep it in place and most of the sand was swept away during coastal storms. The Corps is currently in the process of receiving final approvals from its headquarters for the Rockaway & Jamaica Bay Reevaluation Report.

This report will authorize the construction, at 100 percent Federal cost, of new erosion control features such as jetties to keep the sand in place.

“The replenishment will serve as temporary relief for the years-long erosion plaguing our beaches,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “This is a positive first step towards the complete re-nourishment and in order to fully protect our community we need permanent measures as soon as possible. Going forward we need to stay focused on ensuring the long-term projects stay on track.”

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