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Living Breakwaters Construction Update - April 2022


​As of April, the Contractor for Living Breakwaters continues to place stones and ecologically-enhanced concrete units (i.e. “ECOncrete units”) for Breakwater ‘A’, which can now be observed emerging from the water during low tide. All of the toe armor stones for Breakwater ‘A’ have been placed; a few lower sections of these can be observed along the breakwater’s crest. These units are ‘crenulated,’ meaning they have an irregularly wavy profile that encourages marine habitat. (More information regarding these features can be found below.) Due to adverse weather and equipment maintenance needs, the project is now on-track to complete Breakwater ‘A’ at some point from July to August. The Contractor will then advance to placing stone at Breakwater ‘B’.

Over half of all the pre-cast ECOncrete units incorporated into the 8 breakwaters were fabricated at Jersey Precast (in Trenton, NJ); stored at North American Aggregates yard (in Perth Amboy, NJ); transloaded to barges, brought to the construction site, and placed in their final location on the breakwaters by the equilibrium crane—or “E-crane”—and amphibious excavator. Work at the Port of Coeymans (in Ravena, NY) and Carver Quarry (in Johnstown, NY) is resuming post-winter operations.

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How do the breakwaters A and B enhance ecology?

Unlike many coastal infrastructure projects, Living Breakwaters incorporates features that are designed to facilitate diverse aquatic habitat for a variety of marine species—providing valuable ecosystem services to the surrounding waters of Raritan Bay while reducing climate risks for on-shore Staten Island residents.

On Breakwaters A and B, “crest crenulations” will help facilitate habitat space for marine life. The crests of these breakwaters contain a series of low saddles (“crenulations”) located a foot below mean high water. The rest of the crests are about 3 feet above mean high water. These crenulations create intertidal habitat (between high and low tide) where species that thrive in shifting tidal conditions can exist. They also include artificial tide pool units made of ecologically-enhanced concrete—these units retain water between tides, providing additional space for more micro-scale marine life.

We are already observing active habitat conditions around Breakwater A—which is already hosting star tunicates and sponges on its marine mattresses; small barnacles forming on armor stones; broken clam shells around the breakwater (which indicate sea gulls dropping live clams on the rocks to open their shells); and our favorite friendly harbor seal, informally dubbed Stanley, who has been using the emergent area of Breakwater A as his haul-out area.

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Saturday, April 30, 2022