Even before Hurricane Hermine chopped off parts of Pinellas County's beaches, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Bellair Bluffs, was trying to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hurry up and put the sand back.
Now that the beaches appear to have lost more sand than at any time in the past decade, Jolly has again sent the Corps a letter urging them to start rebuilding the beaches in 2017 -- a year earlier than planned.
"The arrival of Hurricane Hermine has exacerbated the erosion, and concerns persist that these areas of Pinellas County may not be able to withstand future storms," Jolly wrote in a letter sent Friday to Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, who oversees the Corps.
Jolly said in an interview the Corps sent someone to inspect the beaches last month, but he still has not gotten a response to his original letter. Nevertheless, he is convinced the Army will say yes -- if another federal agency goes along.
"I believe we have a good partner in the Corps and they recognize it's in their interest to do this in 2017," Jolly said in an interview. "But I believe there is some resistance to moving it up from the (White House) Office of Management and Budget."
Jolly said he's working with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on overcoming any objections to hurrying up the beach renourishment process. Jolly was once an aide to U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who prided himself on his ability to steer beach renourishment projects to Pinellas.
Jolly is currently seeking re-election. He is opposed by former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat.