In many areas of the State, sand dunes provide a significant amount of  protection to the upland property, to upland development, and to adjacent beach areas. The Department, therefore, encourages the construction of elevated walkover structures which are designed to protect the dune topography and dune vegetation from pedestrian traffic and which allow for the natural reconstruction and revegetation of damaged or eroded dunes.


A permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is required for construction of walkovers on most sandy beaches fronting on the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. In areas where a coastal construction control line has been established pursuant to provisions of Section 161.053, Florida Statutes, a permit is required for all excavation, construction, or other activities with the potential to cause beach erosion or damage coastal vegetation. Permits for walkovers contain standard conditions which require construction to be conducted in a manner that minimizes short term disturbance to the dune system and existing vegetation. Replacement of vegetation destroyed during construction with similar plants suitable for beach and dune stabilization is required. Only limited excavation for the placement of support posts is authorized for construction of walkovers. The construction of walkovers may not occur during the marine turtle nesting season, typically May 1 through October 31, except for Brevard through Broward counties (March l through October 31).


Walkovers to be constructed across vegetated dunes or across heavily vegetated beach berms should be post-supported and elevated a sufficient distance above the existing or proposed vegetation to allow for sand build-up and clearance above the vegetation (this may be several feet depending on the type of vegetation). Walkovers should generally be constructed perpendicular to the shoreline and extend at least to the seaward toe of the frontal dune or the existing line of vegetation but not farther than 10 feet seaward of the vegetation. Support posts should not be installed into dune slopes which are steeper than approximately 30 degrees. Whenever possible, stairways leading from the top or crest of a dune down to the beach should be designed to completely span the seaward slope of the dune. 


Walkovers should be designed as minor structures and need not meet specific structural requirements to resist wind and wave forces, but should be designed to produce minimum scour of the beach and dune topography during a storm event and to reduce the potential for damage to upland structures as airborne or waterborne debris.  The width of the walkover structure should not exceed 4 feet. The railing should be limited to a handrail and one center guard rail. The posts for the walkover structure should be 4-inch by 4-inch (although 6-inch posts may be allowed), should be embedded deep enough to support typical live and dead loads (minimum of 5 feet.), and should not be encased in concrete.  Typical spacing between post bents is 6 to 8 feet.  Supporting beams, bents, and stair stringers should not be greater than 2-inch by 12-inch pressure treated lumber.  Connections may be fastened with bolts or nails hotdipped galvanized or stainless steel.  All lumber should be pressure treated.


The number of walkovers within the development depends on the expected volume and type of traffic; however, the width of each walkover allowed should not exceed 6-feet.  Where more than one walkover is authorized within the development, a minimum 150-foot spacing should be provided between authorized walkovers.  The piles for the typical walkover are 6-inch in diameter and should be embedded approximately 8 feet to account for both structural stability and possible dune deflation losses.  Since the structural design guidelines provided herein may not apply to many of these structures, designers of such structures are encouraged to consult the Bureau staff.

Revised August 1998

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