Tangier Island to receive protective jetty through federal-state agreement

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TANGIER ISLAND, Va. (WAVY) — There’s new hope for Tangier Island, which is slowly vanishing from erosion and sea level rise. 

The island in the Chesapeake Bay will be getting a jetty to protect its harbor and part of its navigation channel. 

Governor Ralph Northam says the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Marine Resources commission have reached an agreement for the project, which has been years in the making. 

“I am pleased to finalize this critical state-federal partnership that will advance harbor protections long sought by the Mayor and citizens of the Town of Tangier,” said Governor Northam in a press release. “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.” 

Congress first authorized an Army Corp study into the jetty in 1994. An initial report was launched in 1995, and the full study started 15 years later in 2009. 

The straight stone jetty will be built at the southwestern tip of Uppards Island, extending south 494 feet into the water.

The Corps looked at several different possibilities for helping to protect the navigation channel from wave action, but ultimately decided the jetty was the only feasible option. 

“As everyone should know this jetty project is very important and vital to all the residents of Tangier. This has been in the work for six long years. We would like to thank everyone from the local county, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the federal government 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. This is a great example of true partnership between state and federal governments,” said Tangier Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge.

The total cost of the design and construction is projected at $2,646,000, with 20 percent provided through state funding. 

“Governor 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 Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “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.”

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