Substantial repairs are planned for the Irma-damaged coastline of Carrot Bay, Public Works Department staff said at a community meeting on March 6. (Photo: DANA KAMPA)

Quick fixes carried out after Hurricane Irma helped make Carrot Bay’s battered coastal road driveable, but this week Public Works Department officials unveiled a longer-term plan they said will stabilise the road, protect the coastline, and cater to pedestrians.

“I think many of you remember that we had some giant craters in the road, and you couldn’t get home from between Little Apple Bay through to Carrot Bay,” PWD Director Jeremy Hodge said of the damage caused by Irma.

During a public meeting on March 6 in the village, Mr. Hodge presented plans for the 2,159-foot-long Carrot Bay Sea Defence Project, which will include road repairs as well as rocks and walls to take the brunt of big waves.

“The nutshell of this project is to break the sea, break the current about 45 feet out before it gets in, instead of breaking on the road,” he said.

The project, designed by the St. Lucia-based firm FDL Consult Inc., will also include building stairs down to the shore for easy beach access, Mr. Hodge added.

The first of five project phases — the revetment and sidewalks near the badly eroded section by D’ Coal Pot — should be completed in three to four months, according to PWD staff.

The final building materials are set to arrive within four weeks, and construction is planned to start by the first week of April, presenters said.

Premier Andrew Fahie said months of planning meetings have gone into preparing the designs.

He added that further public meetings about a cultural village in Carrot Bay will soon be announced.

Mr. Fahie promised to continue communicating with residents about what areas to prioritise after the first phase is completed.

Worse storms

PWD Deputy Director Kurt Hodge, a civil engineer, said the generation before his had created a sea defence wall that stood strong for years.

“However, due to climate change, the weather patterns have changed, storm surges have gotten a lot stronger, we’re encountering a lot more frequent hurricane systems — and the hurricane systems are getting stronger,” he said.

These factors were taken into account with the design for the new wall, he said.

Other design priorities included protecting a critical roadway, shielding properties, and having the capability to withstand Category 5 storms, all without negatively affecting the ecosystem, particularly for nearby fishermen, Mr. Hodge said.

Central to the plan is a two-foot-thick “gravity wall” and a sloped pile of boulders extending 34 feet into the ocean. Waves would break on the rock revetment first, then hit the wall, lessening the power of the water before it reaches the coast, he said.

Mr. Hodge said the department also plans to add sidewalks and streetlights to the area. The roadway itself won’t change in width, he added.

Construction will span from Fortune Ghut past Old Ground Ghut, close to D’ Coal Pot restaurant.

Eco considerations

A limited environmental and social impact assessment showed that about 20 clusters of corals would be affected, but principal consultant Dr. Shannon Gore of Coastal Management Consulting said they could be relocated, according to Mr. Hodge.

PWD did consider another option of building an artificial reef barrier, Mr. Hodge said, but that approach would be “much more costly” and require additional survey work.

Considering that the road is a major connection for north-end traffic, staff will be located at both ends of the construction site to direct the flow, according to Mr. Hodge.

Efforts will also be made to reduce the amount of dust kicked up into the air, he added.

Mr. Hodge said the project is the start of larger efforts to better protect coasts throughout the territory.

Residents, who attended the meeting online and in person, said something needs to be done before the roadway falls into further disrepair, especially given the potential for landslides with the large streams of water coming down from Sage Mountain.

Community members also said they hope to retain shoreline vegetation like sea grape trees, which Mr. Hodge said could be transplanted or replaced.

To some attendees’ disappointment, Mr. Hodge said some sandy areas may be lost, but he added that this is a necessary trade-off for better protection against strong storms.

Others were pleased to see better protection for the road, though some concern was expressed that rising sea levels might mean it is still too close to the water.