The sand currently being dredged from the Little Egg Inlet is finding a new home along some of Long Beach Island’s southern beaches, state officials announced.
Late last year, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded an $18.4 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Oak Brook, Illinois to dredge 700,000 cubic yards of sand, with an option to dredge an additional 300,000 cubic yards, from the inlet, according to a state release.
Officials expect the work, which began on Jan. 18, to end with full demobilization by mid-March.
The dredged sand is being placed on beaches and dunes from Ocean Street in Beach Haven south to Holgate, focusing on areas that sustained erosion since the completion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ replenishment project.
The Little Egg Inlet is a major thoroughfare for boat traffic between southern Long Beach Island in Ocean County and Brigantine in Atlantic County that has experienced serious shoaling.
The dredging, a first for the waterway that features constantly shifting sands, will create a navigable boat channel a mile long and 24-feet below mean sea level.
Simultaneously, Cranford-based Weeks Marine began a $10.6 million project for the Army Corps involving the pumping of 755,000 cubic yards of sand from the Brigantine Inlet to repair beaches in Brigantine.
New Jersey Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel, a frequent critical of beach replenishment plans, says the current project will not work.
“Just pumping sand on the beach is a waste of money and hurts the environment. With recent storms hitting Long Beach Island, we’ve seen the replenished beach projects by the Army Corps and DEP have already failed,” he said. “Unless we build dunes appropriately and restore marshes and tidal wetlands, they cannot protect our coast against beach erosion or protect property from storm surges.”
But a state official says otherwise.
“This project is designed to have the multiple benefits of restoring beaches that are economically vital for shore tourism and storm protection while making it safe for boaters to again use Little Egg Inlet,” said David Rosenblatt, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Engineering and Construction. “We look forward to having the project completed in time for the next tourism and boating season.”