It's on us. Share your news here.

$314K For Ortley Beach Sand In Toms River; Will It Be Enough?

Posted on April 10, 2024

TOMS RIVER, NJ — Ortley Beach resident Debra Martin has never been shy about advocating for the needs of the barrier island portion of Toms River.

So it was no surprise when she asked Toms River Mayor Daniel Rodrick whether the $314,813.13 contract awarded to Earle Asphalt Company for beach filling would be sufficient to address the erosion that has happened in the offseason.

“It’s worse this year,” Martin said at the March 27 council meeting where the council approved the contract. “How is $314,000 going to cover it?”

“Two years in a row they ran out before they got to 5th Avenue,” Martin said, which made it “horrible, horrible getting on and off the beach,” she said.

Rodrick said the $314,913 bid for 2024 was based on an estimate Earle had done on tonnage of sand needed as the company prepared its bid.

Severe beach erosion has been a problem annually in Ortley Beach since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the initial beach replenishment and dune construction in 2019.

Toms River has paid for beach fill yearly, spending $430,000 in 2021 to restore sand and more than $240,000 in 2022.

Last year the township spent $304,913.13 to have Earle Asphalt fill in the beach in time for the Memorial Day opening, according to the purchase order dated May 24, 2023, which was obtained by Patch through an Open Public Records Act request.

Earle was the lowest bid of three bidders in 2023; the other two bids were for $564,990 by Agate Construction Company of Egg Harbor and $695,931 by Mount Construction Company of Berlin.

The May 24, 2023 invoice to Earle was the only payment made by Toms River in 2023 for beach fill, according to the records provided in response to the OPRA request. In October 2023, former mayor Maurice Hill said the township would need to consider putting aside $300,000 to $500,000 to address beach fill while Toms River — and the rest of the Barnegat Bay peninsula — awaits a promised beach nourishment by the Army Corps.

That Army Corps beach project had been anticipated in 2023, but bids on the project were rejected when they exceeded the government’s estimates, Stephen Rochette, public affairs officer for the Army Corps, said last April.

The $60 million project has been in the works since 2022, when Congress appropriated $30 million in federal funds for the project as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. New Jersey and Ocean County are funding the remaining half of the project.

Rochette on Monday said the Army Corps plans to advertise a new contract sometime in April.

“If bids come back within an awardable range, we would then award a contract and coordinate with the contractor on a construction schedule,” Rochette said.

Councilman Justin Lamb said the Army Corps is to blame for the issues with the dunes in Ortley Beach.

“They didn’t do it right the first time,” he said.

2023 report by Dredge Wire, a publication for the marine infrastructure industry, said part of the problem is former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property, where the dunes constructed “come to an abrupt end.”

“There is a major deviation of the dune line where the Surf Club property was located,” the Dredge Wire report says. “While the dunes north and south of the area back up to the boardwalk, the dunes come to an abrupt end near the location of the once privately-owned property. As a consequence, the front of the dunes that face the ocean jut out a bit farther in order to compensate, and maintain an equal width.”

That jutting out acts similarly to a jetty, the report said.

“Since the waves generated by storms are blocked by the outward dune line, the sand erodes quickly as water envelopes the areas to the north and south,” the report said. “The momentum of the waves is stronger in the middle, causing the breakers to smash against the protective dune, taking beach entrances, matting, fencing and other features with it.”

The Dredge Wire report says the Army Corps plan for the 2024 renourishment is to even out the dunes and add significant sand to the beach berm, where beachgoers sit, to reduce the wave energy and preserve the beach.

“During the initial project, some of the sand was expected — and designed — to be taken out to sea, where it formed a bar that acts as sponge to soak up some of that energy,” the Dredge Wire report said. “But without a large enough berm, the system does not work as intended.”

Rodrick has said he has spoken with state officials and has suggested the state try constructing an artificial reef 300 to 500 yards offshore to help break down the energy of the waves. Artificial reefs constructed of concrete reef balls have been used in some areas of the Caribbean to help reduce damage from storm-driven waves.

New Jersey has a network of artificial reefs but they exist to provide fish habitat and have been funded by donations primarily from the recreational fishing community. You can read about New Jersey’s artificial reef program on the state Department of Environmental Protection website.

It's on us. Share your news here.
Submit Your News Today

Join Our
Click to Subscribe