Controversial Absecon Island dune building, beach replenishment project to begin next month

    (Courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers)

    (Courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers)

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

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last November 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.

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

    The schedule is as follows: 

    Atlantic City: Mid-April through late June.
    Longport: Mid-April through late June.
    Margate: Late June through late August.
    Ventnor: Early September through early October.

    Crews will work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and close 1,000 feet of beach at a time.

    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.

    Late last year, six Margate beachfront homeowners filed a lawsuit and sought an injunction in federal court to stop the project, arguing that the design would be detrimental to their properties. 

    In February, a federal judge refused the injunction request to stop the project, rejecting the argument that the project would exacerbate flooding. The lawsuit against the project remains pending. 

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