Seawall and jetty to protect Tangier harbor

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Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have agreed to build a seawall and jetty to protect Tangier Island’s endangered harbor.

“The harbor is the economic heart of Tangier Island, and the center of a significant commercial fishing industry worth millions to Virginia’s economy,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement. “As Hurricane Sandy demonstrated all too clearly, it is critically important to protect the harbor with this barrier to clouding and coastal erosion.”

Tangier Island, located in the Chesapeake Bay near the border with Maryland, is three miles long and has only 500 residents, 125 of whom are licensed commercial watermen. The dockside value of the seafood they landed last year was $3.4 million, according to the governor’s office.

The project includes the construction of a 430-foot long seawall and a 50-foot spur jetty to protect the channel from direct wave impact and damage caused by sheets of ice pushed into the inner channel and harbor.

The $4.2 million project includes $3.2 million from the federal government, and $950,000 from Virginia over the next five years. Virginia approved its funding in last year’s biennial budget. The state and federal government are splitting the cost of a $542,000, two-year feasibility study.

Construction on the project is expected to be complete in 2017.

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