Governor Deval Patrick today joined state environmental officials and local legislators to celebrate the launch of the Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Winthrop Beach Rehabilitation Project. The $17 million, four-phase project is designed to better fortify Winthrop Beach against the full force of northeast storms and natural beach erosion.
"Rehabilitating Winthrop Beach will protect our historic coastline and leave a stronger, cleaner Commonwealth for future generations," said Governor Patrick. "I thank Speaker DeLeo and the Winthrop officials and community members for their partnership in making this project a reality."
The project grew out of the "Back to the Beaches" program, an initiative established to improve Boston Harbor area beaches through rehabilitation of existing facilities and the improvement of visitor amenities. Winthrop Beach requires constant renourishment to protect the seawall and reduce flooding and damage to the adjacent neighborhood that five thousand people call home.
"With storms becoming more violent due to climate change, the Patrick-Murray Administration has worked to protect our state's coastlines and coastal communities," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, whose office includes DCR. "Under Governor Patrick's leadership we have remained committed to improving our coastal infrastructure and this project is another example of that commitment."
"I am so proud to see that the renourishment and restoration of our Winthrop Beach is underway," said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. "I thank Commissioner Kimmell, Commissioner Lambert, Secretary Sullivan and Governor Patrick for their efforts in moving this project along."
Phase 1, which is nearing completion, involved the repair of two structures at the southern part of the beach; the structures trap sand that would ordinarily be carried away in the long-shore drift. These structures were originally constructed in 1959 to stabilize the beach and will play an important role in stabilizing beach renourishment in the next phase of the rehabilitation project.
Repair work included removal of the structure's concrete cap, removal of the upper layer of armor stone, resetting of the armor stone and chinking of the crest. The cost for Phase I was $473,050.
Phase 2, which is expected to start later this month or early November, will include the repair of three northern beach stabilizing structures and using sand from the tombolo, or mound, behind the wave breakers known as the Five Sisters to renourish the southern end of the beach.
The third phase of the project, nourishment of the northern end of the beach, is expected to start in the spring of 2013.
The final, or fourth phase, will consist of landside improvements, including widened sidewalks, new lighting, reconstruction of Winthrop Shore Drive, drainage improvements and additional beach amenities, including rinse stations, benches, and landscaping.
The sand used to renourish Winthrop Beach will come from the former highway embankment in Rumney Marsh, the same area that provided the materials to successfully rehabilitate Revere Beach 20 years ago. DCR officials identified this suitable upland sand source after examining the effect of the project on local roads. To reduce truck traffic by potentially 30 percent through Winthrop, DCR will supplement this material with re-used sand from behind the Five Sisters of Winthrop Beach for the southern end of the project.
"Our beaches are some of our greatest natural resources and DCR is committed to restoring and preserving them," said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr. "This is the first step in a larger project that will provide beach goers and locals increased safety. We need to do all we can to protect the Massachusetts coastline and our communities along it."
"I am pleased that another important milestone to a much awaited and necessary Winthrop Beach project is underway," said Senator Anthony Petruccelli.
Since the days of the early Massachusetts settlers until the late 1800s, Winthrop Beach was used for clam digging, lobster fishing, kelp for fertilizer, as well as rocks and gravel for ship ballast.
The popularity of this area as a recreational destination was spurred on by the availability of public transportation to the north shore in 1875 and the acquisition of the Winthrop Shore Reservation area in 1900 by the Commonwealth. Today, Winthrop Beach is a very popular location for people to visit year-round.