Northam administration finalizes agreement for construction of Tangier Island Jetty

virginia logoGovernor Ralph Northam this week announced completion of a project partnership agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to launch the design and construction of the Tangier Island Jetty in Accomack County.

This federal and state funded infrastructure project will protect the western portion of the navigation channel and harbor for the Town of Tangier and the associated seafood industry infrastructure.

“I am pleased to finalize this critical state-federal partnership that will advance harbor protections long sought by the Mayor and citizens of the Town of Tangier,” said Governor Northam. “A clear and open navigation channel is key for public safety and for the local economy, which counts the Chesapeake Bay and tourism among its central assets.”

The Tangier Island Jetty involves construction of a straight stone jetty at the southwestern tip of Uppards Island, extending south into the water approximately 494 feet from its point of origin into the navigation channel.

“The jetty project will help protect the Town’s navigation channel and harbor from wave action and adverse weather conditions than can damage work boats, docks, and crab houses,” said VMRC Commissioner Steven G. Bowman. “It’s therefore critical for supporting the Chesapeake Bay seafood economy.”

“The signing of this document is an incredibly important milestone and another example of our great partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Col. Patrick Kinsman, commander of the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “This project is critical for the town of Tangier—it will provide critical protection for the harbor to support its people and its economy—and now it’s time for us to ‘move dirt’ and get this project built.”

“As everyone should know this jetty project is very important and vital to all the residents of Tangier. This has been in the work for six long years. We would like to thank everyone from the local county, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the federal government as they have all been instrumental in making this finally a reality. That it will be built gives our Island and residents young and old renewed hope that we can save our homes and our way of life.  This is the way that good government should work. This is a great example of true partnership between state and federal governments,” said Tangier Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge.

“We have worked long and hard and jumped through a multitude of hurdles to get this project which is much needed for the protection of Tangier Island. This jetty is essential for the survival of Tangier Island and I share the excitement of the Tangier Island residents for its completion,” said Delegate Robert S. Bloxom, Jr.

“Tangier is an extraordinary and unique island full of incredible history and home to generations of tradition. Its watermen also play a vital role in maintaining our state’s well-known blue crab fishery. Because of rising sea levels, erosion and increased episodes of severe weather events, the future of Tangier Island is less certain than its past. The building of a jetty is critical to the protection of the island, its people and its industries. That the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Army Corps of Engineers have been able to reach an agreement allowing the construction of the Tangier Island Jetty Project after years of work and discussions is absolutely critical to protecting such an important Virginia asset. I look forward to seeing the project come to fruition,” said Senator Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr.

In addition to ongoing and recently announced efforts to address carbon pollution, the Northam Administration plans to continue pursuing legislation that would generate as much as tens of  millions of dollars per year to use for flooding adaptation and preparedness and other critical energy, environment, and public safety needs.

“Governor Northam and I are committed to helping Tangier and other coastal communities plan and prepare for the increasing risks posed by climate change and the more severe natural hazards that come with it,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “This jetty will help the people of Tangier in the short term but it is not a long term solution to the greater problems the island faces. It is clear that in many areas we will not be able to engineer our way out of trouble.”

In 1994, Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to study a jetty for the Town of Tangier to protect the navigation channel and infrastructure along it.  The initial phase of this project was launched in 1995 with a reconnaissance report.  A full feasibility study was initiated in 2009.  In the feasibility study, the ACOE considered several measures to protect the navigation channel from wave action.  The study included a revetment, a jetty, offshore breakwaters, geotextile tubes, and relocating harbor facilities. Ultimately, the only measure that was deemed to be effective and feasible was the construction of a jetty.  Costs for design and construction of the Tangier Island Jetty project total $2,646,000, with 20 percent provided through state funding.

Last week Governor Northam announced the appointment of Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips, U.S. Navy (Retired), as Virginia’s first Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection.

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