Norfolk beaches getting safer for the summer season

Posted at 7:15 PM, May 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-23 20:46:27-04

Norfolk, Va. - The city of Norfolk is getting its beaches ready for the summer season.

Crews have been removing old timber shoreline structures at the Sarah Constant Shrine Beach in Ocean View to make that area better and safer for beachgoers. Those structures, built in the 1940s, were used to trap sand and help with erosion problems.

"When they were new, they were really sort of defined, they were above water, people could see where they were, and they're an effective shoreline structure until they deteriorate," said Lee Rosenberg, Environmental Services Manager for the City of Norfolk's Planning Department.

Rosenberg says that over time, the wooden structures have become a safety hazard for beachgoers, and they had to go.

"They're slippery, they're unexposed below the water, so somebody could easily swim over. So, it's been a real challenge for the lifeguards here to just keep people away from them during the beach season," said Rosenberg.

Crews have had to use a crane and other heavy equipment to get the work done. They also combed the beach with rakes and carefully picked up any wood that was left behind.

The City of Norfolk is also concerned about the beach itself, especially as we get deeper into hurricane season.  In fact, during Hurricane Isabel, Rosenberg said that wave heights were 14 to 15 feet in the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

"Many people don't realize that this is not a very calm situation here during a storm. So that's why we have to devote a lot of funds toward shoreline protection," said Rosenberg.

Later this year, the City of Norfolk is expected to build a single stone, jetty-like structure to cut down on erosion at the Sarah Constant Shrine Beach. In addition, about 35,000 cubic yards of sand will be put on the beach there.

The City is also doing shoreline work at Ocean View Park and Community Beach.