St. Johns County receives $59 million for coastal protection, ‘managed retreat’ – First Coast News

The St. Johns County Coastal Storm Risk Management Project included both dune and beach berm construction along approximately 2.6 miles of the St. Johns County coastline from Vilano Beach to South Ponte Vedra Beach. Construction included placement of approximately 1.3 million cubic yards of sand dredged from shoals located within St. Augustine Inlet. Future periodic nourishment events are planned at multi-year intervals (by Mark Bias, courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers).

Other funded projects include a railroad overpass in Nocatee and erosion control in North Ponte Vedra Beach.

With Gov. Ron DeSantis putting pen to paper in signing the state’s budget for the fiscal year Thursday, St. Johns County received $59 million — the largest amount of state appropriations the county has ever received and far more than the $12.4 million it got last year.

Among the projects funded in the budget is “managed retreat” of flood-prone residential areas on the county’s south end. Five million dollars is earmarked for homes along Old A1A in Summer Haven, where ocean waves routinely rush under homes during storms, and even high tides. The money will go toward acquiring the homes so the owners can move elsewhere. 

“I am incredibly grateful to our legislative delegation, which included Speaker Paul Renner, Senator Travis Hutson, Representative Cyndi Stevenson, and Representative Bobby Payne,” County Administrator Hunter Conrad said in a news release. “Our community thanks them for their diligence in getting these funds to help enhance the quality of life for our residents.”

The list of funded projects includes $25 million to restore critically eroded North Ponte Vedra Beach, which will be matched by more than $8 million in local funds. 

The county also received $15 million for extending County Road 2209 to International Golf Parkway. Phase one will construct a four-lane divided roadway from Silverleaf Parkway to International Golf Parkway.

St. Johns County also received $19 million to enhance safety along transportation corridors and coastal barrier islands, including:

• A $6 million match for a $28 million project to eliminate a railroad crossing at County Road 210A and reroute existing vehicle traffic through a new overpass and interchange at U.S. 1

• $6 million for State Road A1A intersection enhancements to improve the level of service

• $2 million to reconstruct and put signal lights at the Pine Island Road and U.S. 1 intersection

The managed retreat initiative is also included in the list of transportation projects:  

• $5 million for the Summer Haven Managed Retreat Program to establish a purchasing initiative for residential properties along Old A1A in an area of persistent critical erosion

“As we developed our legislative requests, St. Johns County was responsive to the needs of our citizens for roadway improvements and beach restoration, displayed the trust placed upon us by our residents to address public safety for commuting within our communities, and we were innovative in leveraging the state’s dedication to projects with the support from federal dollars,” St. Johns County Commission Chairman Christian Whitehurst said in a statement…


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