A beach replenishment project in Long Beach Island temporarily paused last year when dredges left the state for other projects has resumed, a federal official said.
The dredge “Liberty Island” began dredging and beachfill operations on Tuesday, said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Steve Rochette. Two additional dredges, “Padre Island” and “Dodge Island,” are slated to return this week.
The three will work in southern Long Beach Island, including Beach Haven south to Holgate, where officials expect the crews to finish toward the end of next month.
The southern area is just one section of $128 million contract with Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. that began last May. The project, a joint effort between the Army Corps and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, encompasses 12.7 miles of beaches in Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom, Beach Haven, and part of Surf City.
The project, which is fully funded by the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, was slated to finish by this month.
“The Army Corps contractor will construct beach and dune systems ranging from 325 feet to 415 feet wide. The beach berm itself will be built up to approximately eight feet above sea level,” a 2015 state release said. “The dune system behind the beach – critical to protection of property, infrastructure and lives – will have a top elevation of approximately 22 feet above sea level.”
Crews generally close 1,000-foot sections of the beach as 24/7 work progresses at approximately 100 feet per day.
The Army Corps will determine the project schedule for the northern portion of the island, including Loveladies, North Beach, and a portion of Surf City, after real estate acquisition is finalized, according to the agency’s project status site.
State officials late last year criticized Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. when the company left Long Beach Island in December to work on projects elsewhere in the country.
“This planned action by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company is unwarranted and irresponsible,” Department of Environmental Projection Commissioner Bob Martin said late last December. “By suspending its Long Beach Island work, this company will expose lives, homes, businesses and infrastructure to severe winter storms.”
Long Beach Island beaches suffered mostly major damage during the late January blizzard. A state survey noted the possibility of a new inlet in the vulnerable Holgate section.
The Jersey Shore chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has been regularly critical of the ongoing beach replenishment along the entire New Jersey coastline, saying it creates more hazardous swimming conditions, generates poor quality sand, and negatively impacts wildlife.