Conceptual Coastal Engineering Alternatives for West Beach New Bedford, MA

A comprehensive assessment of the City New Bedford’s Clarks Cove shoreline was undertaken in order to provide the background information and coastal engineering alternatives the City will need to address ongoing beach erosion along West Rodney French Boulevard.  The background assessment includes an evaluation of the structural condition of the coastal engineering structures within the project area, a multi-beam bathymetry survey, and surveys of shellfish and eel grass resources.  This project was funded in part through the MCZM Coastal Resilience Grant program, with additional funding and in-kind services provided by the City of New Bedford.

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An interdisciplinary team lead by Applied Coastal was assembled to complete a scope of work designed to provide the City with data and conceptual plans that would the basis of the future effort to complete the engineering design the preferred alternative and begin the environmental permitting process.  Participating in the team effort were CLE, Inc. of Marion, MA who performed the structural assessment and bathymetry survey and the Woods Hole, MA office of Stantec, Inc. who performed the shellfish and eel grass habitat surveys.

The five conceptual coastal engineering solutions were developed and evaluated for the West Rodney French Blvd. shoreline, each of which fall within three more general categories of 1) beach nourishment alone, 2) beach nourishment with a toe berm, and 3) beach nourishment with T-head groins.  Beach nourishment is the common component of all these alternative, and would be a critical piece of any project along the West Rodney French Blvd. shoreline.  The nourishment improves the future resiliency of the project shoreline by dissipating wave energy that is presently directly impacting the seawall, causing further erosion of the remaining beach through wave reflection and continuing to degrade the physical condition of the wall.  Existing eel grass resources in the area set limits on the footprint of any proposed solution, both for the initial constructed footprint and in the project footprint as it evolves with time with the movement of nourishment material.

Based on a screening analysis of evaluated alternatives, construction of a T-head groin field with a beach fill was recommended as the best option with regard to cost and project goals.  Taking this concept to the next step will require developing a more detailed engineering design, and the development of permitting documentation.

beach nourishment, New Bedford, Massachusetts, bathymetry, beach erosion, T-head groin