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A boardwalk construction permit is required for a succession of pairs of timber piles spaced 1.5m apart, giving a large space beneath the boardwalk for the free flow of floodwaters, many of us have traveled to Florida with friends or family to enjoy the hundreds of miles of beaches the state has to offer. The tourism industry has a $67 billion economic impact on the state of Florida, with an estimated 87.3 million visitors a year.

So it’s no surprise that enhancing public access to these beaches and providing durable structures to encourage tourist enjoyment of these beaches is a high priority for local towns and cities, as well as county and state agencies.

Not only are these beach boardwalks or walkovers important to the Florida tourism industry, but the proper design of these access points has long-term implications for the ecological health and protection of natural areas.

As the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) puts it, the agency “encourages the design of beach access, including beach and dune walkovers, to protect the dune topography and dune vegetation from pedestrian traffic and allow for the natural recovery of damaged or eroded dunes.”

Benefits of Beach Walkovers:

  • Provide protection for beach topography
  • Prevent disruption to vegetation and coastal ecosystem from foot traffic
  • Allow access for pedestrians to conveniently and safely reach coastal landmarks

BoardWalk Construction Permit and Dune Walkovers

Permits are a required first step for landscape architects or engineers looking to design a walkover in Florida that fronts the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. By Florida law, permits are required for any “excavation, construction or other activities with the potential to cause beach erosion or damage coastal vegetation” (Florida Dept. Environmental Protection, FDEP). They are necessary in any areas in which a Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) has been established. However, specific conditions must be met in order to obtain a permit before engineering and construction begin.

Minimizing Environmental Disturbance

According to the FDEP, the following pre-permit stipulations exist for beachside walkover construction:

  • Any construction taking place must be minimally invasive to the area’s vegetation.
  • If existing vegetation is destroyed during construction, it must be replaced with similar plant life suitable for the area’s ecosystem.
  • Only limited excavation and construction activity may take place during the turtle-nesting season.
  • Construction material that could become debris during a storm must be kept to a minimum.

Walkover Elevation Guidelines/Clearance Guidelines

While not all beachfront require elevated walkways –  in general, it is recommended that elevated walkovers be constructed perpendicular to the shoreline and of an elevation appropriate for the type of beach land.

As we mentioned, the construction of the boardwalk itself was being measured, fit, and installed right in our footsteps. This meant the foundation needed to be secure and able to hold capacity immediately. That’s sort of a trademark of screw pile systems, as they do not require concrete.

Screw piles are also incredibly stable in soft soils, like mud and riverbed. In this case, we used round shaft helical piles to accommodate the potential trailer truck loads. Even if another pile system were easier to install (which it wasn’t), a helical foundation was the correct choice for the project.

Concrete boardwalks, walkovers, and pedestrian bridges are durable, maintenance-free, and cost-effective. When it comes to selecting a material for a beach walkover in Florida, many are surprised to discover that it is a legal and viable option, if all of the proper steps are taken this is why Suncoast guides you through the commercial permit steps needed for a boardwalk construction project.