Rockaway Beach. Photo by Hayley Pfitzer on Unsplash

Summer 2022 beach operation plan prioritizes safety

Seventy-six blocks of waterfront open to swimming this season

NYC Parks today announced service changes at Rockaway Beach due to the ongoing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) $336 million Atlantic Shorefront Resiliency Project to protect and strengthen the Rockaway community. Launched in 2020 and scheduled through 2026, USACE’s work is responsive to decades of calls to address severe erosion and flooding from coastal storms, which has been exacerbated by climate-change, at one of New York City’s most popular beaches. The project consists of 14 new stone groin structures, the rehabilitation of five existing groins, the construction of a reinforced dune system, and sand renourishment on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Rockaway Peninsula. Stone groins are rock structures that extend out into the ocean that will trap sand and reduce beach erosion. They will support sand accumulation, allowing for wider beaches, less erosion, and better protection from storms when complete. In line with USACE’s confirmed construction schedule, starting Memorial Day weekend, approximately 62 blocks of Rockaway Beach will be open to swimming seven days a week–with up to 76 open by Friday, July 15. Due to construction six blocks of beach will be temporarily closed to all access and 21 blocks of beach will be open for sand access and recreation only. The entirety of the Rockaway boardwalk will remain open.

“We appreciate the Rockaway community’s partnership as we work to protect the Rockaways from future storms and long-term erosion,” said Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Kizzy Charles-Guzman. “The beach closures this summer will advance critical work to protect this frontline community, ensuring a stronger and more resilient beach for years to come.”

“The Army Corps is doing complex and important work to protect this coastal community, mitigate erosion, and ultimately expand access to Rockaway Beach,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “We realize these temporary closures are challenging, but it is simply not safe to allow swimming in this area while the Army Corps construction operations are active. In the meantime, we want beachgoers to be able to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand along much of the shorefront this summer.”

Rockaway Beach Summer 2022 Schedule:

May through July 15, 2022

Full access – swim, sand, and recreation access

  • Beach 9-13
  • Beach 16-18
  • Beach 32-36
  • Beach 59-65
  • Beach 69-86
  • Beach 117-145

Sand and recreation only

  • Beach 13-16
  • Beach 18-32
  • Beach 36-38
  • Beach 65-69
  • Beach 86-91
  • Beach 96-108
  • Beach 112-116

No access

  • Beach 92-95
  • Beach 109-111

Periodic sand and water closures for dune construction

  • Beach 136-149

July 15 through September 2022

Full access – swim, sand, and recreation access

  • Beach 9-13
  • Beach 16-18
  • Beach 32-36
  • Beach 59-65
  • Beach 69-86
  • Beach 91-109
  • Beach 112-115
  • Beach 121-136

Sand and recreation only

  • Beach 13-16
  • Beach 18-32
  • Beach 36-38
  • Beach 65-69
  • Beach 86-91
  • Beach 115 – 121
  • Beach 136-140

No access

  • Beach 109-112

Periodic sand and water closures for dune construction

  • Beach 136-149

Additional contextual details:

2021

  • During summer 2021, B93-103 was closed to swimming due to erosion, but was accessible for other activities. In addition, B142-149 was closed until early July, and 134-143 was closed July-September.

2022

  • The full boardwalk will remain open.
  • Surfing, which is always at your own risk, will continue to be allowed.
  • Access to Beach 38-57 remains restricted in accordance with federal guidelines protecting Piping Plovers. Shoreline fencing is currently in place in this section to provide plovers with a space to nest and raise their chicks undisturbed according to the guidelines provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • NYC Parks Rockaway Beach concessions will remain open. The section of beach in front of the concessions and bathrooms at 97th Street will be open for recreation, but there will be no swimming at this location.
  • NYC Ferry access to Rockaway Beach will not be affected. Parks will coordinate messaging with NYC Ferry so riders know what to expect when getting off the boat in Rockaway.

Beachgoers looking for updated project information and ongoing service changes can visit the NYC Parks dedicated webpage.

NYC Parks beaches open for the 2022 season Saturday, May 28; seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beachgoers are directed not to swim in red-flagged areas.

ABOUT THE ATLANTIC SHOREFRONT RESILIENCY PROJECT – announced 10/29/2020
The Rockaway Peninsula was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. More than 1,000 structures were either substantially damaged or destroyed by the storm surge, which reached a height of 10 feet. Additionally, approximately 1.5 million cubic yards of sand was displaced from Rockaway Beach and deposited on adjacent communities or washed out to sea. Shortly after Sandy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed approximately 3.5 million cubic yards of sand back onto Rockaway Beach to restore the project to its original design profile and improve resiliency against erosion and coastal flooding. Following Superstorm Sandy, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand secured federal funding for this project as part of the Sandy supplemental appropriations bill (Public Law 113-2). The Senators fought to ensure that the construction of this project would be fully funded by the Federal government.

The Atlantic Shoreline component of this project is a joint effort undertaken by the City of New York, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is being built at a cost of approximately $336 million in federal funding. This project will be critically important to protecting coastal communities from flooding, severe weather events, and other impacts in the Rockaways caused by climate change.

The first phase of construction includes the construction of 14 new stone groin structures and the rehabilitation of five existing groins on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Rockaway Peninsula. These new stone groins will provide stabilization for a re-nourished sand beach and dune and maintain the protective beach profile.

These improvements will also help restore local ecosystems and ensure the long-term viability of endangered species like the piping plover and sea amaranth. The high winds and fast-moving inundation caused by Hurricane Sandy disrupted the barrier island landscape that provides a home to local flora and fauna.

The second phase of construction will include the construction of a reinforced dune system that will strengthen the shoreline against coastal storms, which are growing more frequent and more destructive due to climate change. The dunes will be constructed with armor stone and steel sheet pile walls at their core, which will reduce wave breaking pressure and limit storm surge inundation and cross-peninsula flooding. All public access points across the dunes will be rebuilt using resilient materials.

The design of this project resulted from extensive analysis to determine best practices for a more resilient beach and shoreline as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet, and Jamaica Bay Study, which was completed and released in 2018.

The U.S. Army Corps awarded the construction contact to initiate this first major project phase to H&L Contracting LLC of Bay Shore, Suffolk County, for approximately $114 million. Work has begun on the contract with the construction of new groins in the Beach 30s. The full Rockaways – Atlantic Shorefront Project is expected to reach completion within four years.

The Atlantic Shoreline component is the first of two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers major coastal infrastructure projects undertaken to strengthen Rockaway Peninsula. In close coordination with New York City and The New York State DEC, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also advancing the Jamaica Bay component, which will involve constructing a system of berms, floodwalls, and nature-based features along the coastline in flood-prone communities bordering Jamaica Bay. This project is currently in the preliminary design phase and has an estimated cost of $237 million.