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Longboat Key restores a lagoon’s link to Sarasota Bay

Canal 1A's reopening also adds loads of sand to nearby gulf-facing beaches.

It’s Longboat Key’s sand.

They paid for a lot of it, they wanted to enjoy it, and they wanted it back.

A project recently completed just east of the Longboat Pass bridge on the north end of the island accomplished a lot of that in one swoop. But it wasn’t exactly a pail-and-shovel endeavor, and it wasn’t exactly a proposal that happened at the snap of a finger.

The Canal 1A project, conceived in 2018 for about $1.1 million in construction fees, served two purposes: shaving down the ever-growing spit of sand that at times has cut access to the lagoon at the center of Greer Island; and returning thousands of cubic yards of that sand to gulf-facing beaches nearby.

“The sand goes right back on the beach, which is where it was supposed to stay originally, just that sand never really stays where you want it to,’’ city manager Howard Tipton said recently in his monthly report to town residents. “It’s either moving north and south or east and west.’’

The sand wasn’t doing residents and visitors much good on the east side of the Longboat Pass bridge linking Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. In fact, sand through the years, and most recently after a multi-million dollar beach renourishment project up and down the shoreline, has consistently flowed off the northern beaches and piled up in places it never was before.

A lot of sand flowed around the northern tip of Longboat Key and gathered just north of the Lands’ End community, at times making it possible to walk through ankle-deep water from the beach to a nearby private dock.

Two previous, smaller, emergency dredge jobs reopened the passage, which is known as Canal 1A, only to have it close up again.