BRICK – Beaches will be open this summer despite the long-awaited and repeatedly-delayed beach replenishment project, which finally started in Brick on Saturday, April 7 when workers set up pipes to collect the sand being dredged offshore by the oceangoing hopper-dredger, R.N. Weeks.
If the weather cooperates and there are no mechanical issues with the dredger, the township would have 200-foot-wide beaches and 22-foot tall dunes by mid-July, said Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Steve Rochette in a recent phone interview.
The R.N. Weeks is working around the clock at a site 1.5 miles offshore between Brick and Mantoloking in “Borrow Area B.” This is one of multiple “borrow” sites for Brick, which was located through a “long and vigorous process” to find the best sand to match the native characteristics for the beach it is replenishing, he said.
The dredger lowers a drag arm and sucks up a sand and water mixture into a holding area in the middle of the ship called a hopper, Rochette explained.
When the hopper is full, the dredger motors closer to the shoreline and connects to a buoy where it starts pumping the sand mixture through the pipes, which reach land at a specified shore location. The dredger goes through this process eight or nine times a day.
Pipes can be added if needed, and an elbow pipe can flip and direct the sand north or south, he said.
A second dredger, the B.E. Lindholm, which is currently working in Longport, is expected to join the R.N. Weeks in Brick where they would be working in tandem. One would be at the borrow site while the other is pumping sand, and then they would “flip-flop,” Rochette said.
Before bulldozers maneuver the sand mixture on the beach, the sand goes through the pipe and into a beach basket to be screened for discarded offshore munitions, Rochette said. (Shore-based workers call it “the bomb box.”)
A trained technician from Weston Solutions (a company that provides environmental and infrastructure support services) clears each beach basket for munitions, Rochette said, which is one of the elements of the contract.
During the recent beach replenishment in Mantoloking, seven WWI rifle grenades were discovered in Mantoloking.
The other contractual elements for the beach replenishment project include the installation of sand fencing, the creation of dune crossovers (ie: beach entrances), and dune grass planting, which would be completed during the winter, he said.
Pending Congressional funding and approval, Rochette stressed, the Army Corps of Engineers would provide “periodic nourishment” to the barrier island every four years, pumping additional sand for anticipated beach erosion.
Mayor John G. Ducey said that the dredging project would be “a little bit of a minor inconvenience” in Brick since 1,000 feet of beach would be closed off at a time until the project is completed.
“It’s going to be a successful beach season,” Ducey said at a recent council meeting. “We’re going to have our giant beach back, so it has finally, after all these years, begun.”