A Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) project to restore six acres of Batten Island to its natural salt marsh state will begin in July.
Batten Island, south of Fort George Island along Heckscher Drive, is a 15-acre ruderal (spoil) island that was created during dredging of the area’s local waterways several decades ago.
“Restoring the salt marsh will help bring the area back to its natural, original state, enhancing the local ecosystem and aiding in coastal storm surge protection,” said Michelle Waterman, Park Manager, Talbot Islands State Parks.
The FDOT project includes the excavation of six acres of DEP Park property from its current ground levels of 4-to 6-feet above sea level down to an elevation of 1½ feet to match the existing salt marsh. Approximately 19,000 cubic yards of dry uplands will be removed from the site during excavation. Gopher Tortoise burrows are located around the site and the erosion control measures that are in place will prevent the tortoises from entering the site. Additionally, a soil-tracking prevention device will be used to prevent the spread of materials off the jobsite.
No lane closures are scheduled during the project, however, haul trucks will utilize Fort George Road from Heckscher Drive to the construction staging area and access road for the duration of the project. Heckscher Drive access to the excavation site is not feasible due to the Gopher Tortoise burrows in the area.
Construction activity will occur weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Survey work at the site began the week of June 27 and site clearing will begin the first week of July, weather permitting.
The $293,000 project is scheduled to be complete in the fall. MAER Construction of Jacksonville is the contractor.