Story by Catherine Galioto & Chris Lundy
ORTLEY BEACH – Crews planned to start as early as April 1 on a long-awaited dune replenishment and beach widening project that will come first to Ortley Beach, and eventually progress through 2018 to nearly the entire oceanfront of the northern barrier island.
Toms River officials expressed excitement that the project was underway after a long process of signing easements with landowners, and awarding the contract, for the Army Corps of Engineers’ $128 million project to build dunes and wider beaches, as part of shoreline protection efforts.
Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher said he was very pleased that all of the easements were finally signed in order for the project to go through.
Ortley was hit bad in Superstorm Sandy, and never fully recovered. A lot of maintenance had been done to keep it in operation.
“We’ve been spending a lot of money buying sand,” he said.
Fortunately, Ortley has benefited from some natural replenishment, he said, as waves bring some sand back. Additionally, a sand bar acts as a wave break, sparing the shoreline from some of the erosion.
He said he was very grateful to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin for the hands-on work he did to get the shore towns the help they needed, and he hoped he would continue to head the DEP after any change in administration.
“We are very excited by the upcoming start of both the northern Ocean County project and the Absecon Island project in Atlantic County,” Commissioner Martin said in a press release. “We are particularly pleased that work is beginning in Ortley Beach, which sustained such extensive property damage because it did not have a properly engineered beach and dune system when Superstorm Sandy struck. The start of these two major projects fulfills the Christie Administration’s commitment of building a statewide system of engineered beaches that meets Army Corps engineering standards.”
Ortley Beach will receive approximately 267,000 cubic yards of sand, creating an approximately 225-foot-wide beach. The project will start April 1, Councilwoman Maria Maruca said. About two weeks later, the dredge crew will head to Absecon Island (Brigantine-Margate in Atlantic County) to begin the project there before returning. That schedule was part of contract negotiations.
The ACE announced its tentative schedule and has a website for updates at
Ortley Beach (initial beachfill): Mid-April 2017 through late April 2017
Mantoloking: Early July 2017 through September 2017
Seaside Heights: Late September 2017 through October 2017
Seaside Park: Late October 2017 through late December 2017
Ortley Beach (Completion): Mid-October 2017 to mid-December 2017
Brick: Winter 2018
Normandy Beach (Toms River): Winter 2018
Lavallette: Spring 2018
Areas such as Berkeley Township and Point Pleasant Beach, where easements still need to be signed, are not yet scheduled.
Sharon Colucci, president of Friends of Ortley Beach, lost her house in Superstorm Sandy. She finally got back to living in the area last year.
“We’re delighted,” she said of the sand plan. “We’re thrilled with this because we are on the edge of our seats every storm.”
Township council signed a resolution that essentially accepts the project and approved it at the March 29 meeting.
Maruca said “working together with the Army Corps of Engineers and the DEP, we were able to get the dredges to come to Ortley Beach first before the Absecon Island portion began, and that was sorely needed.” She said it was the township staff and the cooperation of beach associations that helped put Ortley to the first in the schedule.
“I’d like to invite everyone out to the beach in Ortley Beach and see them in action restoring our beaches,” said Maruca, whose council seat represents the beach areas of Toms River.