FDOT continues reinforcing coastline

The devices being placed off the Sunshine Skyway.
The devices being placed off the Sunshine Skyway.(WWSB)
Published: Jun. 10, 2023 at 4:16 PM EDT

MANATEE COUNTY, FL – The Florida Department of Transportation continues to place concrete structures in the water by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. They are called Wave Attenuation Devices, wth the goal of preventing erosion and providing environmental benefits. FDOT officials said It will take anywhere between two to three months to complete.

“The project first started because we were getting erosion issues on the fishing pier access road. So, waves were coming over the seawall washing away the road and effecting the guard rail,” said Brent Setchell, FDOT District 1 drainage design engineer.

The devices are concrete structures that range from eight to ten feet tall. FDOT crews are placing them 200 feet offshore in two rows just inches from each other. Setchell explained it’s a project they knew needed to be done.

“the problem was, was that a traditional break water using rubble, rip-wrap or the large boulders because of the deeper waters, the footprint would’ve been too large and too costly to construct,” said Setchell.

The devices increase sea grass growth and improve water clarity. FDOT District 1 environmental permits coordinator, Nicole Monies, said for visitors and fishers going to the bridge, they will see increased sea life thriving.

“Seagrasses provide food and shelter and also nursery habitats for the animals. So, they are going to help propagate the manatee species and the other species as well and its important also or recreational and commercial benefits too,” said Monies.

Protection during hurricanes is another major function of the devices. According to Setchell, they are decreasing wave energy significantly.

“The extreme forces that hurricane winds produce these wave attenuation devices will really help the coastline here with resiliency. We expect that, you know, with these we will really reduce the wave energy by more than 70 percent,” said Setchell.

According to FDOT, the two spots near the South Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier are the only locations in Manatee and Sarasota County they plan to place the devices.