Plans are in the works to construct a steel seawall that will protect Mantoloking and Brick, two areas significantly impacted by Superstorm Sandy’s tidal surge.
Both municipalities have received federal and state approval to construct the wall, which will run along the beach, laying the foundation for a makeshift dune system, the Associated Press reports.
The federal government will cover 80 percent of the $40 million seawall, which will be driven 32-feet below the ground, serving as an anchor, and rise 16-feet above the beach, with sand hiding the entire wall, the report states. The towns will be responsible for keeping the wall covered with sand.
But the wall alone is not a panacea. It will serve as a component of a comprehensive solution.
The report notes that as a “short-term protective measure,” it will be supplemented with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach widening and dune construction projects.
Just north of Mantoloking, portions of Bay Head suffered serious flooding and property damage due to Superstorm Sandy, but the small borough fared much better.
Bay Head was protected by a stacked boulder seawall, built in 1882 and hidden from view, which residents say mitigated property damage. The reappearance of the rocky seawall following Superstorm Sandy surprised many residents, according to a release from the National Science Foundation, which announced a recently issued study that it sponsored on the wall’s impact.
“It’s amazing that a seawall built nearly 150 years ago, then naturally hidden under beach sands and forgotten, would have a major effect under the conditions in which it was originally designed to perform,” H. Richard Lane, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Sciences, said in the release.
In the October 2013 edition of Coastal Engineering, a team of researchers write about the stark damage differences between both municipalities.
From the Coastal Engineering report:
In Mantoloking, an entire dune nearly vanished. Water washed over a barrier spit and opened three breaches of 541 feet, 194 feet and 115 feet, respectively, where the land was swept away. In Bay Head, only the portion of the dune located seaward of the seawall was eroded. The section of dune behind the seawall received only minor local scouring.
To put it in perspective, one oceanfront home was destroyed in Bay Head, while more than half of the Mantoloking oceanfront homes “were classified as damaged or destroyed,” according to the report.
Virgina Tech geoscientist Jennifer Irish, co-author of the report, said that the Bay Head success story is “a clear, unintentional example of the need for multiple levels of defense that include hard structures and beach nourishment to protect coastal communities.”
But a March announcement that Bay Head residents would assume the $2.2 million construction costs to extend the wall did not come without controversy.
Some feared that the seawall would funnel water into nearby areas, while one commenter on Jersey Shore Hurricane News wrote that Mantoloking should consider the same measure.
“It’s ridiculous for anyone to be against a town taking preventative steps to safeguard themselves,” commented Karen Noodle Nelson Mangold in March.
Months later, a Mantoloking official is eager to see construction of the steel seawall commence.
“Wouldn’t it be great to drive the metal in by the first anniversary of this storm?” asked Mantoloking spokesman Chris Nelson, as reported by the Associated Press. “It might take a little more time, but it will happen.”