Millions needed to renourish Fort Lauderdale Beach

Beach erosion washes away portions of roadway

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - It could cost tens of millions of dollars to renourish Fort Lauderdale Beach, which has been damaged by high tide waters and Hurricane Sandy, according to the city's mayor.

"We probably have a million dollars plus price tab down here that -- it's going to cost the City of Fort Lauderdale it's going to cost taxpayers, and we hope it doesn't cost our tourism industry ," said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John "Jack" Seiler.

The Florida Department of Transportation expects portions of A1A to stay closed over the next few months after high tide waters washed away parts of the roadway.

Only one northbound and southbound lane of A1A is open between NE 14th Court to NE 17th Court. The beach is also closed between those streets.

Anthony Ciance said workers who moved the sand off the beach also destroyed about a mile of decorative wall.

"Now you got to replace the whole wall, the whole wall, and that's tax dollars. That's your dollars, my dollars, the cameraman's dollars, everybody's dollars. Waste," said Ciance. "That's ridiculous. Look at that. That's ridiculous.

"We have to renourish Fort Lauderdale Beach," said Seiler. "Probably tens of millions of dollars, but I think when you look at the economic impact this beach has, on Fort Lauderdale, on Broward County, and you look at the impact tourism has, spending tens of millions of dollars to renourish our beaches in order to preserve a billion dollar industry is critically important."

"It was perfectly beautiful. It's a shame. The trees and the vegetation are gone," said David, a resident on the beach.

"This is a big shock to us. We are all having nightmares over this," said Ron Hamilton, who also lives nearby.

FDOT was on site taking pictures and assessing the damage. They said 75 to 100 feet of beach is gone and it's difficult to tell how much more damage there could be.

FDOT used concrete barriers from the Interstate 595 project to stop the swells.

"This stretch right here has always had a problem keeping its sand," said Seiler. "The experts need to tell us what's happening out here in terms of the ocean bottom, the reefs, the depths, that's allowing this erosion in this one pocket."

Seiler blamed global warming and rising sea levels for the problem.

"Climate experts need to be brought in to this discussion because if we're going to try and come up with a solution and ignore climate change, ignore what's happening with the climate, ignore what's happening with our environment, it's going to be a short-term solution," said Seiler. "I don't think anybody expected the erosion to happen in the way it did here. I don't think anybody thought that we'd actually lose the wall, the sidewalk, and parts of the road. That is extreme."

"My concern is whether this is a temporary situation or whether this is a just the foreground for the tide to continue to rise," said beach resident Howard Moskow.

"Do you know where this stops?" Local 10's Tamika Bickham asked Cleo Marsh with FDOT.

"No, nobody knows where it stops," said Marsh.

On Tuesday, FDOT will repaint the pavement markings and place temporary, water-filled barriers in the closed northbound lanes to stop cars from getting too close to the eroded area. The sidewalk and parallel parking remains open on the west side of A1A in this area.

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