$92M Barrier Island Dune Project Contract Awarded With Spring Construction

In Brick, a steel wall in the beachfront was put in place to increase coastal storm resiliency. A federal dune project was awarded a contract to add 22-foot dunes along the entire barrier island. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

With a contract in place, work on constructing a dune and berm along the barrier island from Manasquan Inlet to South Seaside Park would start this spring. The $92 million contract was awarded to Weeks Marine on January 10.

The Army Corps of Engineers did not announce where along the 14-mile island the work was to begin and how it would proceed, instead promising the Army Corps will closely coordinate with the NJDEP and Weeks Marine on the construction schedule and will post updates to its project web site when further information is available.

The Notice to Proceed for construction to Weeks Marine Inc. will come sometime in the next month, announced the ACE, with physical construction expected to begin by spring of 2017 and project completion by 2018.

  Portions of beach will be closed while the pipes pump dredged ocean sand onto the beach, but the ACE said no more than 1,000 feet would be closed at a time “as work progresses along the island, (closed sections are ‘rolling’ and advance as the beachfill progresses along the island).”

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The Ocean County project area was held up while the southern portion for Long Beach Island advanced throughout the summer of 2016. Now, this year through late 2018, areas such as Point Pleasant Beach, Mantoloking, Ortley Beach and Seaside Heights will eventually see dredge boats arrive to pump about 11 million cubic yards of sand, dredged from approved ocean locations.

That sand would create 22-foot high dunes, with beaches widened from construction to an additional 100 to 300 feet. The project, approved before Superstorm Sandy, is designed to reduce coastal storm damage and increase resiliency.

Over the course of 50 years, the dunes will be maintained, ACE said, adding sand lost to erosion.

“This represents one of the largest beachfill contracts in the history of the United States Army Corps of Engineers,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, said in a prepared statement. “The engineered dune and berm system will serve the vital purposes of reducing risk and helping to protect people and property.”

Landowners needing or contesting required easements brought about litigation, with elected officials urging owners to sign. In Toms River, tracking down all landowners in a beach association held up matters, after the first signed agreements were voided by the state. Elsewhere in Point Pleasant Beach, landowners sued.

As more signatures were earned for the easements, the announcement of a bid opening came late 2016, with the contract awarded January 10 to Weeks.