Controversial Absecon Island beach project to begin soon

    Beach replenishment  in Ship Bottom in May 2015. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Beach replenishment in Ship Bottom in May 2015. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    A controversial beach replenishment and dune building project on Absecon Island will begin soon, state officials announced. 

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $63.3 million contract to the Cranford, N.J. based Weeks Marine Inc.

    The work, a joint project by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps, involves building engineering beaches and dunes in Margate and Longport and replenishing beaches in Atlantic City and Ventnor. 

    “This project is vital to the protection of homes, businesses, lives and infrastructure in these Atlantic County communities,” NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin said in a release.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Crews are set to begin before the end of the year and finish by next October, when 3.8 million cubic yards of new sand will be throughout the engineered dune and beach system. 

    Atlantic City will receive a 200-foot wide berm and a dune cresting nearly 15 feet above sea level, while Ventnor, Margate, and Longport will receive a 100-foot wide berm and a dune nearly 13 feet above sea level.  

    The finished product will also include public access dune crossovers, sand fencing, dune grass plantings, and the repair or extension of existing storm water outfalls and drainage structures.

    The federal government is funding the initial construction in Margate and Longport through the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act. The periodic nourishment of Atlantic City and Ventnor, which began in 2004, is cost-shared, with the federal government funding 65 percent and the state covering 35 percent. 

    Margate had waged a long court battle with New Jersey over eminent domain, or land seizure, to accommodate the federal protective dune project, arguing that its wooden bulkhead was sufficient to protect the city from storms. The city also had concerns about drainage and beach accessibility. 

    In June 2016, the municipality decided to not appeal a judge’s ruling allowing eminent domain for the project to move forward. 

    But a federal lawsuit brought by five Margate homeowners is pending, according to the Press of Atlantic City. They are seeking an injunction to stop the project, arguing that the design would be detrimental to their properties. 

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal