The major construction project currently underway on Old Winter Beach Road has multiple goals.
It is intended to solve road flooding problems, block stormwater runoff into the lagoon, and put in place a section of pipe that will carry reuse water from the mainland to the Johns Island Water Management system.
The project will also put the road, which was erroneously laid out partly on private property when it was built in 1923, in the right place, moving it south, closer to The Shores community.
The $1.5 million project, which got underway this month, is slated for completion by December. The project extends a half-mile from Jungle Trail to A1A.
The most intense work is at the western end, where 36 inches of water collected during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, said project manager Amy Adams. “At 40 inches, a car is floating away.”
The western stretch of the road will be raised 2 feet to remedy the problem with standing water. It will also be moved 20 feet to the south because part of it is on property that belongs to River Club, a community on the north side of the road.
Moving the road, with its adjacent sidewalks, ditches and pipes, south will impact landscaping in front of The Shores. A new 8-foot-wide sidewalk will run right along the property line and numerous plants, including a banyan tree, will have to be removed.
Town Mayor Thomas Slater said, “I fought for that tree,” but it had to go.
Raising the road will prevent about 13,000 pounds of dirt from washing into the lagoon each year, according to Adams.
When the project is complete, storm-water runoff laden with sediment and other pollutants will go through a “train of treatments,” Adams said. Pipes filled with accordion-like fabric will filter grit and solids before discharge in a ditch.
Five stormwater catchments will contain “floc logs” made of alum-like substances that act as sponges to soak up phosphate and nitrogen, nutrients that can trigger algae blooms in the lagoon. The logs’ nutrient load will be measured before disposal every six months, helping the town meet state requirements to reduce lagoon pollution.
The filtered storm water will eventually empty into a settling pond, never reaching the lagoon, “which is the important thing – saving the lagoon,” said Town Manager Robbie Stabe.
The project also includes laying more than a half mile of 16-inch pipe in the public right of way to carry reuse water.
John’s Island plans to build a nearly 5-mile pipeline to move county “reclaimed” wastewater to the 1,650-acre gated community to help irrigate two golf courses and landscaping around single-family homes and condos.
The line will start at the county’s 3-million-gallon “reuse” water tank, at 77th Street near Old Dixie Highway, pass under the lagoon 80 feet below the lagoon floor, run along Old Winter Beach Road to State Road A1A, and then turn south along the highway before emptying into a lake in John’s Island.
Laying the Old Winter Beach section in conjunction with the roadwork will avoid the need to tear up the new sidewalk to lay the pipe later.