By Linda Cicoira
Nearly 25 years after Congress authorized the study of a jetty aimed at protecting Tangier Island, the project appears to be closer to a reality.
This week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced an agreement made between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to design and construct the $2,646,000 seawall.
With more than $2 million in federal money and about $529,200 in state funds, the jetty would protect the western portion of the island, channel, harbor, and associated seafood industry. The straight stone jetty would start at the southwestern tip of Uppards Island and extend south nearly 500 feet into the channel.
“I am pleased to finalize this critical state-federal partnership that will advance harbor protections long sought by the mayor and citizens of …Tangier,” said Northam. “A clear and open navigation channel is key for public safety and for the local economy, which counts the Chesapeake Bay and tourism among its central assets.”
“The jetty project will help protect the … channel and harbor from wave action and adverse weather conditions that can damage workboats, docks, and crab houses,” said VMRC Commissioner Steven G. Bowman.
“The signing of this document is an incredibly important milestone and another example of our great partnership with … Virginia,” said Col. Patrick Kinsman, commander of the Corps’ Norfolk District. “It will provide critical protection for the harbor to support its people and its economy—and now it’s time for us to move dirt and get this project built.”
Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge thanked local, state, and federal officials “as they have all been instrumental in making this finally a reality. That it will be built gives our Island and residents young and old renewed hope that we can save our homes and our way of life. This is the way that good government should work.”
“Gov. Northam and I are committed to helping Tangier and other coastal communities plan and prepare for the increasing risks posed by climate change and the more severe natural hazards that come with it,” said Matthew J. Strickler, state secretary of natural resources. “This jetty will help the people of Tangier in the short term but it is not a long-term solution to the greater problems the island faces. It is clear that in many areas we will not be able to engineer our way out of trouble.”
The jetty is expected to be completed next year.