When people think of Florida, visions of sand and sea come to mind. Weary Northerners, sick and tired of gray skies, frigid temperatures, and muddy snow have a picture-perfect vision of what they’ll see when they step off the airplane and out into the Florida sunshine. They expect palm trees, blooming flowers, the feel of warmth on their skin, and the beach. Oh that beach! Where the sky meets blue-green sparkling water which meets expansive stretches of soft clean sand, beckoning them to come play. Our tourism dollars depend on our sand and surf and along Cortez Beach, they are delivering on the Florida promise to visitors and locals in a new and improved way.
A two-year project replacing eroding beach groins along Cortez Beach has commenced just in time for the 2017 tourist season. Protecting one of Florida’s main assets, the sand, these groins will help prevent erosion from the pounding waves of the Gulf of Mexico. The pier-like structures jut out into the water like giant droids protecting from incoming star fleets. Okay, you might have to use your imagination to conjure that image, however the huge pilings serve an equally impressive purpose for the communities that lie beyond the beachline. The groins serve as a barrier for crucial public infrastructure that includes water and sewer lines. The impacts of those being severed could result in potential sinkholes and raw sewage leakage. The profound effect on the environment, health, property, and economy would be devastating.
The process of replacing severely damaged groins with the newer structures was a $6.8 million project, funded by the Tourist Development Tax and grants received from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The new groins have an expected 50-year lifespan and can be manipulated to adjust to changes in sand and water conditions.
The three groins that have been replaced are found along Gulf Drive South at Sixth Street South, 10th Street South, and 13th Street South. Grab a picnic dinner and look at both function and form in action. Walking out over the water, with the waves of the Gulf of Mexico breaking on either side is a unique perspective to have. As you make your way to the end, the setting sun seems just a little closer. And for vacationers who have traveled thousands of miles for this one moment, this is paradise. For the local economy, this is paradise in the form of continued tourist dollars.
photos by The Sarasota Post