Hurricane Irma and subsequent winter storms in late 2017 and early 2018 brough severe shoreline erosion to parts of Sarasota County, Fla. Along Casey Key, the erosion became dire when it exposed a public water main and caused a 12-ft-high bluff within 2 ft of Casey Key Road. Sarasota County Public Works faced a time crunch, as Casey Key Road is the only means of vehicular transportation onto Casey Key, on top of environmental regulations requiring use of non-permanent stabilization methods.
Typically, Sarasota County would place beach compatible sand that would erode over time and require a replacement, but this failing roadway required a more substantial solution. County staff chose to utilize a cellular barrier bag called TrapBag to protect 300 ln ft of shoreline from severe erosion by creating a soft armoring system of sandbags.
“Within three days, Sarasota County Public Works coordinated necessary environmental permits, equipment, materials and labor to begin stabilization of the Gulf shoreline for protection of the public road and utility,” said Spencer Anderson, director and county engineer with Sarasota County Public Works. “The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and local County Environmental Resource agencies were involved, as well as homeowners in the immediate project area along with the Casey Key Homeowners Assn.”
The project quickly came together with multiple groups successfully collaborating. On March 28, when it came time for installation, county staff had to quickly adapt because the county had never used this product before, while combating difficult weather conditions.
“The most inspiring aspect of this project was the awesome positive attitudes and hard work of the county public servants on the job,” Anderson said. “Showing up early on the first day of work without much idea of how the project would turn out, each person kept positive attitudes and smiling faces while performing difficult manual labor over 12 hour days in the hot sun with angry seas and irritating sands.”
Overall, the project was completed in less than two weeks with the road reopening to traffic April 5. Through hard work and teamwork, the county overcame challenges, including transporting equipment and more than 100 cu yards of sand on a narrow roadway, environmental permitting with local and state agencies, working with a new product on a timeline and more.
“Six months later and after surviving impacts from Hurricane Michael, the TrapBag shoreline protection system is in great condition,” Anderson said. “Sand has accumulated to completely cover the bottom row of barriers and the public’s infrastructure appears well protected until such time that a permanent solution can be constructed.”