By MADDY VITALE
Coastal storms battered Ocean City’s beaches, leaving mini-cliffs in some spots, shrinking beaches and chipping away at the dunes, which are there to protect the barrier island.
But beginning this week, the beaches will be replenished with 257,000 cubic yards of fresh sand in a multimillion-dollar, multi-town project in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Army Corps, a federal agency that oversees beach restoration projects, has awarded a $33.7 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. of Oak Brook, Ill., to perform the work in southern Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Strathmere.
The contract calls for dredging more than 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from two “borrow areas” – one is located off Corson’s Inlet and the other is approximately three miles offshore of Sea Isle City. The sand will be pumped onto the beach at the following locations:
- 257,000 cubic yards of sand in south Ocean City from about 45th Street to 59th Street.
- 456,000 cubic yards of sand in Upper Township/Strathmere from Corson’s Inlet to about Jasper Road.
- 252,000 cubic yards of sand in central Sea Isle from about 29th Street to 53rd Street.
- 388,000 cubic yards of sand in south Sea Isle from about 73rd Street to Townsends Inlet.
Work will begin in Ocean City as early as Wednesday, with the mobilization of equipment, officials said.
Ocean City spokesman Doug Bergen said Tuesday that the estimated overall cost for the Ocean City portion of the project is $6.8 million, and Ocean City’s municipal share is estimated at $850,000.
The remaining balance, after the towns put in their shares, will be paid by the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“We have been working with the Army Corps and the state Department of Environmental Protection for more than 30 years on these projects, and I’m grateful for an excellent working partnership to protect our coastline,” Mayor Jay Gillian said in a statement.
By this weekend, either Nov. 18 or 19, weather permitting, crews from Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. will place a subline that will carry sand from a borrow area near Corson’s Inlet to the beach at 56th Street, Gillian noted.
He said it is anticipated that the sand-pumping operations will begin before the end of November and work will be completed around mid-December.
“Crews will work from 56th Street to 45th Street with about 1,000 feet of beach closed at a time as the job progresses northward,” Gillian said. “When that work is complete, the direction of work will flip to the south to finish the area from 56th Street to 59th Street.”
In addition to the beauty of wide, sandy beaches, communities also benefit from the replenishment project by having a bigger barrier of sand and dunes to protect homes, businesses and roads from the ocean’s storm surge.
After the completion of sand replenishment in Ocean City, the operations will move on to Strathmere and then Sea Isle City.
The contract also includes options for the placement of additional sand. Dune crossovers and access paths, fencing and other features will be installed or repaired as part of the contract, Army Corps spokesman Steve Rochette said in a recent interview.
The project is a joint effort of the Army Corps’ Philadelphia District, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Upper Township.
Beach replenishment projects are primarily funded by the federal government through the Army Corps of Engineers.
Under the funding formula, the federal government kicks in 65 percent of the cost, while the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the towns that are getting their beaches replenished subdivide the remaining 35 percent.