Island Beach restoration earns award

The Island Beach Rehabilitation Project in Greenwich has been honored by the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers (CSCE) with the 2014 Sustainability ACE Award and the 2014 Construction ACE Award of Merit.

The project is the very first to be honored with the sustainability award.

CSCE added the award this year to reflect its commitment to the environment. The Town of Greenwich mirrors this environmentally pressing and significant position of supporting the environmental, economic and social needs of its community. During the restoration, the natural habitat was preserved with minimal building.

Some of the sustainable elements included reused, repurposed and reclaimed project materials. The concrete pier walls were reinforced and reused instead of being replaced, which saved 300 tons of concrete and an extra 30 trips for the town’s landing craft carrying the concrete truck. It also saved two weeks in construction time, and contractors were locally sourced.

The rapid reopening of the island in time for the 2013 summer season after Superstorm Sandy effectively shut it down is itself a sustainable element as it relates to the well-being of the Greenwich community. This quick reopening and restoration of this beautiful island and its accessibility by ferry or private boat allowed visitors to once again get on the water and back to nature. This kind of passive recreation adds enjoyment and well-being to everyone’s lives.

One of the most complex challenges in addition to intense schedule pressures was the geographical. Island Beach is located approximately 1.5 miles off the Greenwich Harbor. Town leaders, crews, the engineers and construction team could only access the island by boat or barge. Construction like this would normally take one to two years to complete, but this project was designed and built within six months including a difficult regulatory process and competition for new materials.

The RACE and Mohawk teams of multi-disciplined engineers and construction crews worked effectively with the town and efficiently met the town’s requirements. By utilizing a combination of technical know-how and practical experience in coastal structures, the facility restoration was cost-effective, rapidly built with readily available and reused materials, and was able to meet the rigors of the harsh Island environment.

Promptly after Super Storm Sandy marched up the Connecticut coastline on Oct. 30, 2012 ravaging all in its way, Joseph  Siciliano, director of the town’s Parks and Recreation met with Jeffrey C. Freidag, superintendent of the Marine and Facility Operations Division and their team to develop a plan to assess damage along the Greenwich coastline, including the islands off Greenwich Harbor.

In November 2012, Mr. Freidag was joined by the team of coastal, structural and geotechnical engineers from RACE to conduct a full walk-through assessment of all waterfront facilities. On Island Beach they were confronted with complete devastation of the ferry landing, pier structures, walkways, and seawalls. With winds mapping peak gusts up to 70 miles per hour and a coastal storm surge of 11 feet. Sandy left debris strewn over the entire island; seawalls were toppled, the concrete pier buckled and the timber pier snapped and shredded in addition the beach was severely eroded.

The goal was set to restore the island park while including resiliency to mitigate the hazards of future events, address issues of sustainability and open the island in time for the summer season.

Mr. Siciliano worked with the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation’s Budget Committee to secure funding for the popular summer island’s rehabilitation project and make its restoration a priority. The town then created a team that drove the Island Beach rehabilitation project to completion against many odds both on time and within budget.

The Parks and Recreation Department’s Marine and Facility Operations Division, with assistance from the Purchasing Department, rapidly vetted a team of engineers and marine contractors and secured a partnership with the marine contracting division of Mohawk International, Inc. RACE led the engineering effort of a strong and cohesive team composed of the Parks and Recreation M&FO Division and Mohawk Northeast, Inc. RACE managed the site assessment and design process and built resiliency into the new pier structures to withstand a 100-year storm while supporting the town of Greenwich’s commitment to sustainability.

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