Posted on November 15, 2023
OCEAN CITY — Staging will soon begin for about two weeks’ worth of beach replenishment in Ocean City’s south end before the project moves to the sand-starved Strathmere section of Upper Township.
In a recent message to residents, Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said mobilization for the project could begin as soon as Wednesday.
Last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it had awarded a $33.7 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Illinois to build beaches in Ocean City, Strathmere and Sea Isle City.
The north end of Strathmere’s beaches is clearly in the worst shape, with steep cliffs cut into dunes and little beach at high tides. Paths over the dunes in the north end of the seaside community have been closed for years, with the one at the lifeguard headquarters at Williams Avenue, reopened for beachgoers this summer, closed and blocked for the fall.
By the weekend, Gillian told residents, dredging operations are expected to pump sand from Corsons Inlet onto beaches from 56th Street to 45th Street, closing about 1,000 feet of beach at a time.
Ocean City’s beaches from 14th Street north were rebuilt last year, under a $21.5 million Army Corps contract with the same company, the latest reconstruction of the city’s beaches since the initial federal project in 1992.
According to Gillian’s message, the Ocean City portion of the project will take about 16 days from when pumping starts, wrapping up in mid-December. Plans call for the work to add 257,000 cubic yards of sand to the beaches, with additional stockpiles of sand for emergencies, before the work moves on to Strathmere.
The projects are officially a joint effort between the municipalities, the state and the federal government. Local communities pay 12.5% of the project costs.
“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,” Gillian said.
Strathmere is set to receive about a half-million cubic yards of sand, according to a project description posted by the Philadelphia District of the Army Corps. An average dump truck can carry 10 to 15 cubic yards of material at a time.
The contract includes rebuilding dune crossovers, as well as fencing and other features, according to the Army Corps.
The Strathmere beaches will be rebuilt from the inlet to about Jasper Avenue in the section known as Whale Beach, according to the Army Corps. An annual report completed for Upper Township last year by the Stockton University Coastal Research Center states that storms in the 1990s breached the dune in that area four times, resulting in severe property damage.
“Since the 2001 NJ state and local beach project, the situation has improved dramatically,” the report states. “Hurricane Sandy did not penetrate the dunes largely because of a final NJ State/local project completed in 2009.”
After the Strathmere portion, the work will move to Sea Isle City, adding 252,000 cubic yards of sand from about 29th Street to 53rd Street, then another 388,000 cubic yards from 73rd Street to the Townsends Inlet area in the south end of the island.
Last month, Sea Isle officials approved $3.2 million for the local share of the project costs. That amount increased from what was originally expected.
“As everyone knows, over the past couple of months we’ve suffered from significant erosion, which is the basis of our revised cost share,” Sea Isle Mayor Len Desiderio said before a vote on the spending.
Upper Township’s share of the cost has been estimated at $1.3 million.
According to Ocean City spokesperson Doug Bergen, the cost for the Ocean City portion of the project is an estimated $6.8 million, with the city’s municipal share estimated at $850,000.