Vilano Beach erosion closes vehicle access

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VILANO BEACH, Fla. – Vilano Beach is closed to vehicles for the immediate future due to increased erosion, rising surf and unusually high tides, St. Johns County officials announced Monday afternoon.

This means drivers will not be able to park on the beach.

Vilano Beach remains open to pedestrians and the Porpoise Point Beach remains accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, said St. Johns County Communications Director Michael Ryan. 

It's unknown when Vilano Beach would open again to drivers.

Stephen McEvoy, a property maintenance supervisor for 22 homes along State Road A1A in Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano Beach, told News4Jax Tuesday that beach erosion is not a new problem.

"It's not something usual to me. I've seen the sand move from one area to another area to another area and it constantly moves back and forth. We can lose 2 feet of sand at one time, and then turn right back around and have 2 feet of sand back in three months," McEvoy said. 

One of the homes that McEvoy maintains is just two doors down from a stretch of houses that were nearly swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean in 2014, when a state of emergency was declared along a stretch of A1A in South Ponte Vedra Beach. 

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has since begun planning beach and dune nourishment for the area since erosion threatens A1A, which is the only north-south hurricane evacuation route for communities along the coastline.

That's one of the reasons why McEvoy said he's preparing for the latest tropical threat. 

"We're looking for light chairs, utensils left outside for barbecuing, anything that's light that will pick up and fly. A good wind gust is going to tear up anything," McEvoy said. 

McEvoy said the severe weather will be challenging. 

"A lot of it's going to move around. We got the hurricane off the coast. It's far off the coast, but look at the tidal surge we're already getting off that one. And then we're going to get the tropical storm, that's going to come over the backside of us, or a tropical depression, whatever it comes through as, we're going to get the wind changes and it's going to change the way the surge is actually rolling and change the tidal situation for the sand," McEvoy said. 

To learn more about the Army Corp's nourishment plan, click here