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Crashing Surf, Beach Erosion Threaten A1A In Lauderdale

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Crashing surf, higher than normal tides and beach erosion over the last couple of weeks have torn down walls and taken out sidewalks along a section of State Road A1A in Ft. Lauderdale.

Over the weekend, the city and county assisted state workers in putting up concrete barriers as a temporary measure to stem the flow of damage to the street from Sunrise Boulevard to Oakland Park Boulevard.

"I'm amazed at the amount of damage that's been caused," said area resident Mike Greenwood.

On Monday, engineers with the Florida Department of Transportation assessed the newly placed barriers and had some concerns since some had already begun to sink into the sand.

"This was only a counter measure to protect A1A as it is right now," said operations engineer Cleo Marsh. "We know that we need to do an actual permanent repair out here."

Over the next two days, state workers will add more barriers to prevent additional damage to A1A.

Keith Banks, a natural resources specialist with Broward County, said over the long-term we could continue to see A1A slowly chip away.

"If we don't get some sand in here, if we don't build that beach back up, if we don't plant protective dunes, and with a sea level rise over a longer term, we are going to have this problem again," said Banks.

Banks says Broward County has already requested permits with the state and federal government to begin re-nourishment along this stretch of A1A, adding that approve could take up 16 months.

Chances are, we're going to see a lot more beach erosion troubles. Dr. Stephen Leatherman, from FIU, known as Dr. Beach, says global warming is to blame for these troubles. "That's caused by the melting of glaciers, land based glaciers and also as you warm water it expands, that's called thermal expansion." says Dr. Leatherman. "So both of those things are causing the sea level to go up as the earth warms up."

Part of what's causing the ice to melt, he says, is simply a warmer weather cycle, other reasons are up for debate - but Dr. Leatherman says it is melting and levels are rising. So now, those high tides in the fall or hurricanes will push an already high ocean even higher.

"The water levels are higher, therefore when you got that and got storm surge and waves on top of that, it's going to overtop things more easily and our land is not geting higher," said Dr. Leatherman.

So how long will this global warming continue? All of us will be long gone before this cycle of warmth cools down. "Over the next thousand years, which is not our human lifetime," said Leather, "We should go back into an ice age, but that's a long time away. For our lifetimes, we're going to be dealing with, I think, pretty much rising sea levels, beach erosion problem."

FDOT says traffic along A1A between 14th Street and 18th Street in Fort Lauderdale with remains just two lanes for the next three to four months.

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