Post-Sandy dune building starts on Long Beach Island

 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District pumps sand onto Brant Beach, NJ in June 2013. The work is part of an effort to restore the Coastal Storm Risk Management project from damages associated with Hurricane Sandy. (Image: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District pumps sand onto Brant Beach, NJ in June 2013. The work is part of an effort to restore the Coastal Storm Risk Management project from damages associated with Hurricane Sandy. (Image: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

A $128 million project to build dunes along Long Beach Island’s oceanfront now, under way, is part of the plan to protect the entire Jersey shoreline.

The beach berm will rise up to 8 feet above sea level, and the dunes will have a top elevation of 22 feet.

Keith Watson. the project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the dunes will reduce future storm damage.

“There isn’t a certain storm level that these projects protect against,” he said Thursday. “They will, however, protect against individual large severe storms such as Sandy that showed that the projects in the ground here on Long Beach Island protected all the homes behind them and significantly reduced any other damages farther away from the shoreline.”

The work is being done in small sections to minimize disruptions to residents and beach-goers.

Nearly 50 easements are still needed from LBI property owners, and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said the state intends to get them so there are no gaps in the dune system.

“Those are our highest priority, obviously, as this project is starting. The Army Corps is going to be able to work around a couple of properties because in this area, there’s not much here,” he said. “But as we start getting to some sections of Long Beach Township, we are absolutely going to need to get those properties through eminent domain and make it happen.”

Beach-goers will notice a change in getting to the shoreline as the dunes are completed, said Bill Dixon, manager of the state Bureau of Coastal Engineering.

 “These low spots in the dunes that we walk through, these are the pathways where the water in a storm event just rushes right down the street. We’re eliminating all them,” he said. “So we’re building walkovers to get people up and over the dune.”

Watching the work progress Thursday, Ocean County Freeholder Joe Vicari said he looks forward to seeing the new dunes completed.

“That storm two and a half years ago was devastating, but now we’re looking to the future,” he said. “When I come here next time with my grandson and take a walk on the beach … it’s going to better than ever before, more resilient than ever before.”

The project along the 12.7 miles of beaches on Long Beach Island is expected to be finished by April of next year.

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