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Work starts on north island sidewalk and seawall project

Photo: A1A was damaged along the narrow stretch of the barrier island near Ambersand Beach in October 2016 during Hurricane Matthew.

Northern barrier island motorists can anticipate delays on State Road A1A for about a year during the construction of a new seawall and sidewalk along the Indian River Lagoon. The work will repair damage done by Hurricane Matthew and shore up the road to prevent future storm damage.

Florida Department of Transportation was set to start construction last week on the one-mile long sea wall and finish next summer.

The $5.4 million project includes repairs to the pavement on the crucial north-south artery, which leads to all bridges connecting the island with the mainland.

It also features the installation of a new 8-foot-wide concrete sidewalk to replace the existing 6-foot-wide sidewalk.

About 3,150 vehicles per day travel on A1A south of Sebastian Inlet, FDOT records show. Several thousand visitors also use the road each weekend to get to public beaches and Sebastian Inlet State Park.

A1A was damaged along the narrow stretch of the barrier island near Ambersand Beach in October 2016 during Hurricane Matthew. The road and sidewalk had also been damaged by earlier storms.

The new seawall is designed to protect the shoreline against storm surge and wave action in the lagoon during severe storms, FDOT officials said.

Several residents who attended an FDOT information session May 29 regarding the project said they believe the sea wall is needed to protect the island’s lifeline.

In addition to being the island’s primary thoroughfare, the A1A right-of-way contains water, sewer, electric and cable lines.

Some residents at the meeting at Sebastian Inlet State Park’s Fishing Museum also said they are looking forward to walking, running and/or bicycling on the new, wider sidewalk overlooking the lagoon.

“A1A is a busy street,” said Lianne Cordner, an island homeowner. “So, for that reason, it’s nice to have a place to walk and bike and run.”

Todd Heckman was among the island residents who said they’re willing to put up with some short travel delays for the sake of girding A1A and the sidewalk against future storms.

“Obviously, we’re protecting an important thoroughfare north to south – there’s only one way on and one way off,” Heckman said. “You need to be able to ensure that walkway as well as the highway are protected from Mother Nature.”

FDOT will place temporary traffic signals at each end of the daily construction zone, instead of flag men, to keep traffic flowing, said Kathleen Dempsey, a community outreach contractor for FDOT.  Lane closures will be between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“We’re doing everything we can to minimize those impacts,” Dempsey said.

Docks on the lagoon between Ambersand Beach and McLarty’s Treasure Museum traverse FDOT’s right of way, so sections will be removed to allow the construction of the seawall, Dempsey said.

Homeowners will be provided temporary access to the docks until they can be permanently reconnected, Dempsey said.