Bathtub Beach Closes for Phase 2 Renourishment

Bathtub Beach closed again for phase 2 renourishment as officials work to restore the beach to its former beauty. The beach reopened temporarily in June 2024 for a short stint but was quickly closed so the crews could continue renovations.

Locals were excited to have the coveted beach to themselves for a few days, and many visited the spot while it was temporarily open. Once the Bathtub Beach renovation is complete Stuart will once again have its staple beach for locals and tourists.

Bathtub Beach

Many locals have fond memories of Bathtub Beach. The beach is well-known and popular because of its shallow, warm waters. It’s a hidden gem but well-loved on the Treasure Coast. The beach is especially enjoyed by families who use the beach to ensure little ones stay safe in the shallow water. Local families prefer Bathtub Beach because the reef system creates a great barrier, and young kids in the water don’t have to worry about the tide. Hopefully, these reef systems will be there for the long term.

Bathtub Beach is a fantastic beach with paths on the strip’s west side that are perfect for watching the sunset. The beach also has a beautiful gazebo. Many tourists are unaware that the beach exists, but locals know how valuable the beach is and enjoy it every summer. For now, locals will have to use other beaches in Stuart as Bathtub Beach closes for phase 2 renourishment.

Why Was Bathtub Beach Closed?

Bathtub Beach is a vulnerable spot, and storms and erosion can damage it. Erosion is a natural process on barrier islands, but rising sea levels can worsen the effects. The beach has a limestone reef that acts as a natural break in the water during calm days, but during hurricane season, when water levels are elevated, the limestone reef isn’t as effective.

Martin County’s Bathtub Beach renovation will protect infrastructure and stabilize the shoreline. The county has worked hard over the years to combat erosion and has ongoing coastal resilience efforts. In 2021, local officials moved around 200,000 cubic yards of sand onto the shoreline. Currently, the beach is undergoing a renovation called the MacArthur Boulevard Resilience Project.

macarthur blvd bathtub beach

Source: MACARTHUR BOULEVARD RESILIENCE PROJECT

Bathtub Beach’s Reef System Isn’t Strong Enough to Stop Storm Surges

Bathtub Beach is known for its incredible reef system. It’s like having a lagoon near the shore, making it a perfect place for snorkeling and diving. The reef itself creates excellent conditions for kiteboarders and windsurfers.

Bathtub Beach has a large reef system that is home to more than 500 marine animals, including endangered sea turtles. It’s an incredibly unique reef system because it was built by Sabellarrid sea worms, which also makes the reef extremely fragile. The reef is incredible, but it’s not tall or strong enough to break up waves throughout the fall and winter seasons or reduce the impact of tropical storms and hurricanes.

The reef’s water can develop strong currents, causing big waves that contribute to beach erosion. The new seawall will slow the energy of the waves and keep erosion at bay. During storms, large waves can also damage infrastructure. In 2022, during Hurricane Nicole, water from the Atlantic covered the road, and local officials did not want to repeat that damage.

The Bathtub Beach Renovation Has Two Phases

Local officials are working in two phases to restore Bathtub Beach to its former glory as one of the best public beaches in Martin County. The first phase was the construction of a seawall that was buried under the dune line. The seawall is expected to hold the line when storms come and keep water and sand from flowing into the beach parking lot and damaging the area. The seawall is not a typical seawall and won’t be visible to beachgoers.

The seawall part of the project is complete and took about nine months to build. Building the wall was essential, especially after Hurricane Nicole caused erosion and damage. Martin County spokeswoman Martha Ann Kneiss explained that the seawall was designed as a defense of last resort.

MACARTHUR blvd  RESILIENCE PROJECT

Source: MACARTHUR BOULEVARD RESILIENCE PROJECT

The project’s next phase is raising MacArthur Boulevard to prevent flooding on the road to the beach. The most vulnerable section of MacArthur Boulevard is the section of the road located between Bathtub Beach and Sailfish Point. That part of the road is around 1100 feet and is currently at 2.5 feet elevation, making it susceptible to flooding. There’s additional pressure to fix the road and raise its elevation because the road also fails to meet FEMA guidelines for road elevation. Once the project is complete, the road will be raised to 5.25 feet.

Local officials were also concerned about the damage MacArthur Boulevard might sustain without a beach renovation. MacArthur Boulevard is at high risk for potential failure during severe weather events. For now, local officials can use emergency sand placement to prevent the roadway from failing during storms.

The MacArthur Boulevard Resilience Project aims to stabilize the shoreline so that the beach parking lot and the road are protected under extreme storm conditions. The county has been working to make the roadway section that leads to the entrance of Bathtub Reef Beach more resilient. The current project targets all the weak points of the road and will harden and stabilize the road. MacArthur Boulevard will also be elevated.

bathtub beach renourishment

Souce: Martin County

How Much will the Bathtub Beach Renovation Cost?

Bathtub Beach’s renovation is expected to cost around $5.6 million. One year ago, Martin County invested over $3 million into the restoration project. This price tag covered about 25% of the cost of the renovation. FEMA picked up the rest of the bill. Although the renovation is pricey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency covers a significant portion of the costs. Once the project is complete, the new seawall will be able to withstand 100-year storm events, and the road will be safe from flooding, which is an excellent investment for the Treasure Coast and the generations who live in the area. Bathtub Beach is a special area on the Treasure Coast, but the beach hasn’t been open for months. Bathtub Beach’s restoration and reopening is highly anticipated by locals and tourists.

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