Posted on October 9, 2023
The federal agency that will oversee a major beach replenishment project this fall or winter for Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Strathmere is considering its options after bids for the contract came in significantly higher than the government’s estimate.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to restore the storm-eroded beaches in each town by placing fresh sand in the following locations:
- 257,000 cubic yards of sand in the south end of Ocean City from about 45th Street to 59th Street.
- 456,000 cubic yards in Strathmere from Corson’s Inlet to about Taylor Avenue.
- 252,000 cubic yards in central Sea Isle City from about 29th Street to 53rd Street.
- 388,000 cubic yards in the south end of Sea Isle from about 73rd Street to Townsends Inlet.
Two companies submitted competitive bids for the contract, but in both cases the amounts were well above the $29.3 million prebid estimate by the Army Corps.
Great Lakes Dredging & Dock Co. of Houston submitted a bid of about $33.8 million, while Weeks Marine Inc. of Covington, La., made a bid of nearly $43.9 million, bid documents show.
It is not yet clear what the Army Corps will do in response to the bids. One option would be to reject the bids and seek new ones, which would push back the start of the project.
The start and completion dates for the work are not yet known, but the Army Corps previously indicated it wanted the project to get underway this fall.
“We are working through contractual and funding processes at this time and hope to have an update soon,” Army Corps spokesman Steve Rochette said of the project in an email Wednesday.
He added that the Army Corps is hopeful it will be able to award a contract and move forward with construction.
In addition, the Army Corps is considering an option for an extra 1 million cubic yards of sand to restore damaged beaches and dunes in Ocean City, Sea Isle and Strathmere. The options would include dune repairs, new sand fencing, dune grass planting and dune crossover repairs.
The government’s prebid estimate for the full-scale work — which includes the base contract for the beach replenishment project, plus the options — was $45.6 million.
Great Lakes Dredging & Dock submitted a bid of $49.6 million for the full-scale work, while Weeks Marine came in at $63.3 million.
Beach replenishment projects of this magnitude require an army of heavy construction machinery and a ship-like dredge anchored offshore.
Sand will be dredged off the ocean floor and from Corson’s Inlet and then pumped onto the beaches through a network of massive pipes. Bulldozers and earthmovers will spread the sand along the shore to widen the beaches and fortify the dunes.
All three towns have experienced significant beach and dune erosion going back to last winter and the fall of 2022. In some spots the dunes have been carved away by the stormy weather, leaving steep mini-cliffs in their place.
Ocean City, Sea Isle and Strathmere were lashed with rough surf, drenching rains, flooding and gusty winds during Tropical Storm Ophelia’s arrival at the Jersey Shore on Sept. 23. The storm lingered for virtually the entire week to cause even more beach erosion in all three towns.
In a separate replenishment project completed earlier this year, Ocean City’s beaches received about 1.5 million cubic yards of fresh sand in the north end and the downtown area of the island, stretching from the Seaview Road jetty to 14th Street.