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Willoughby Spit and Vicinity Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project

Project Scope
Located in the city of Norfolk, Virginia, and consisting of 7.3 miles of shoreline along the southern portion of the Chesapeake Bay extending from the tip of Willoughby Spit near the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel to the federal navigation project at Little Creek Inlet; the Willoughby And Vicinity Storm Damage Reduction Project is the largest single storm damage reduction project in the City of Norfolk.

It included placing 1.2 million cubic yards of sand along the shoreline, widening the beach to 60 feet and creating a slope to 5 feet above mean low water.

The project has an expected life span of 50 years and is expected to receive 445,100 cubic yards of fill every nine years, dredged from the Thimble Shoal Auxiliary Channel, over the lifetime of the project.

A feasibility study was completed by the Norfolk District in 1983 and the project was authorized under Section 501 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (PL 99-662), as ammended. A limited reevaluation report was completed post Hurricane Sandy on February 19, 2014

Formed during a hurricane around 1749, Willoughby Spit along with Ocean View has been influenced by coastal storms ever since.

With the assistance of the commonwealth of Virginia, the city constructed a series of breakwaters along the Willoughby Spit-Ocean View shoreline in the late 1990’s. State funding was discontinued before beach nourishment behind the breakwaters could be accomplished, leaving the project area with a reduced level of protection. In 2003, Hurricane Isabel destroyed the protective beach berm, nearly three quarters of the protective sand dune, and several dwellings.

The 7.3 miles of residential area sits virtually unprotected and shoreline recession continues to be a major problem. The city supported a restart of the preconstruction engineering and design investigations to include the conduct of a reevaluation study to determine continued federal interest in the authorized project or a reformulated project.

Construction Cost
$34.5 million

Completed May 2017

Project Partner

City of Norfolk



Project Contact

803 Front Street
Norfolk, VA 23508