Ocean City testing TrapBags on southend beach

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Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration. Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration.

OCEAN CITY — The city is testing out a new method for flood erosion control on its southend beaches.

Designed to provide a strong and stable protective barrier for eroding beaches and flood-prone areas, TrapBags have arrived on the beach at 57th Street.

Workers finished installing a 200-foot section of the synthetic sand bags on Friday, according to Mayor Jay Gillian.

“We’re trying them out,” Gillian said, adding that he was impressed with the product. “It’s a great product, new for us and it looks like they may work out very well.”

Sentinel Barriers manufactures the TrapBag barrier system. Based in Fort Myers, Fla., Frank Donato, the city’s emergency management director, said the company contacted city officials about a month ago.

“The company was looking for some areas on the East Coast to install some demonstration projects,” Donato said. “They had been in our area, meeting with the Atlantic County engineer. They contacted us and asked if we had a stretch of beach that might need protection.”

Company officials met with Roger McLarnon, city director of community operations, and Roger Rinck, city engineering manager. It was decided that the south end was the most vulnerable area, particularly at 57th Street.

“There was no charge for the bags,” Donato said.

If the city were to decide to utilize such a product, the project would have to go out to bid, he said.

The TrapBag system is similar to the Geotubes that were installed on northend beaches in 2011, Donato said.

“Both products supply a hard core for a dune,” he said, adding that they provide stability. The product is placed on the eroding beach and a dune system is then built on top of it.

“So if the dune gets washed away, you still have the Geotubes, or the TrapBags,” he said.

The Geotubes are one long, cylinder-shaped synthetic sleeve that gets filled with sand. TrapBags, which stand 6 feet tall, are stitched together in a series, rather than one long tube.

“If the geotube broke open, the sand would wash out and the Geotube was finished,” Donato said.

He said that if one TrapBag is torn or opens, the others remain in place.

The TrapBag is a set of vertical, pentagonal cells attached to each other in 100-foot segments. The cells are filled with sand, silt or gravel. The segments are then linked together to create a longer chain. The idea is that the connection forces the water to move the entire chain rather than being able to dislodge a single cell, making them virtually impossible to move.

“The TrapBags provide a lot more stability,” Donato said, adding that they can even be repaired or replaced as they hold back flood waters. “If you have a breech or a tear, you just take that bag out and replace it, you put another one in. The Geotubes can also be repaired, but you lose a much bigger stretch if something happens.”

Donato said Geotubes protecting the Waverly Beach area in the north end held up very well during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but failed during a September 2009 storm that pushed the Atlantic Ocean across East Atlantic Boulevard and onto residents’ lawns, flattening the dunes in the process.

“Once it got cut open, the waves took it down to nothing,” he said. “The TrapBags won’t compromise. If one gets cut open, you won’t see this happen.”

TrapBags, he said, are made of recycled plastic and are extremely durable. 

A US Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project in the south end of Ocean City is currently scheduled for the fall of 2014, Donato said. The project will provide beach replenishment from 34th Street to 59th Street and a complete restoration of the dune system, including dune grass and fencing once the beach restoration is complete.

This project was supposed to go out to bid this winter, but has since been delayed.

“The TrapBags will provide some protection in the meantime,” Donato said. “It’s a good demonstration. There are some other areas of town that we may look to use them.”

TrapBags were created as an alternative to sandbags, in the wake of Hurricane Charlie in Florida. They have mostly been utilized in the Everglades, in flood-prone river towns and to protect bridge foundations.

“We thought was an interesting product, and worthwhile of a demonstration,” he said.

Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration. Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration.

Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration. Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration.

Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration. Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration.

Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration. Photos courtesy of TrapBag / A recent TrapBag installation in Staten Island, NY. This job was over 6 miles of TrapBag DuneCore restoration.


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