FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - Flagler Beach is still reeling from Hurricane Matthew, years after the storm washed away 1.3 miles of scenic State Road A1A.
Since then, officials with the Florida Department of Transportation said they have developed plans for a massive project to rebuild and protect the roads and dunes as best they can.
"You look at the road, it looked like shark bites. It looked like chunks of the road were just taken out," said Steve Olson, the public information director for the FDOT.
In summer of 2017, Flagler city leaders and volunteers replaced destroyed dunes with state-approved natural fences meant to hold down the fort until the FDOT took over with its three-phase project that started in February.
"This area is susceptible to erosion, not necessarily from erosion but also top down," Olson said.
Crews first strengthened the dunes with additional sand and vegetation before constructing a new sidewalk, a water main, sanitary sewer structures and a French drain system between the roads that will control water runoff.
"The drain is through here and then you have rocks that the water percolates in and some of it is steered away. That's what you're using, pretty much rock underneath to kind of absorb the water," Olson said.
The last phase of the project that's currently underway is building a buried seawall that's about a mile long, running from North 18th Street to Osprey Drive.
"You got a combination of fiber up here, concrete, and you're burying it and shoring it up. You got columns under the sand and it's designed to hold back the forces that come off the ocean in a really bad storm," he said.
Workers will complete the seawall with more vegetation and a small swale between the road and dunes, to help control more water runoff and erosion.
"If the road were to go in this area, I mean, it would be really be tough getting traffic north, south," Olson said. "So, that's why we're doing this buried wall here. It's to protect the roadway and beyond."
The process has been a long one for some residents and businesses. Earlier this year, News 6 spoke with servers at the beachfront restaurant Turtle Shack.
"It's definitely slowed down a lot of traffic. We haven't had a lot of parking. We're kind of limited," JT Cerchiaras said.
Olson said there are always concerns when redirecting traffic in town and the FDOT is trying to take care of businesses and residents the best it can.
FDOT officials said nothing is 100 percent foolproof when up against Mother Nature's wrath, but Olson believes this project is the closest thing to it.
"You ride it out. Then you come back after it's done and see how it held up. Typically, things that are walled off like this tend to do better," he said.
According to the FDOT, the entire project costs about $22.4 million, which is a lot less than first expected. The project is expected to be completed by December.
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