A $25 million federally funded project aimed at replenishing the beaches from Manasquan to Belmar will start on Friday, officials said.
Anthony Ciorra, sandy coastal recovery program manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District, said 1.5 million cubic yards of sand would be placed on the beach. That sand is part of a total of 8 million cubic yards being placed from Sea Bright to Manasquan.
“The Corps of Engineers mission is primarily coastal flood risk reduction ensuring that these projects and these beaches are in place to reduce the risk to flooding to the highly populated, densely developed coastal communities along this project,” Ciorra said.
Contractors will use hydraulics to pump sand from nearly 1.5 miles offshore of Sandy Hook, Ciorra said. The existing beach at its narrowest point is approximately 75 feet and the beaches will ultimately be 150 to 250 feet wide, restoring it to the conditions in 1997, he said.
But more important than beach width, officials said, is the height of the beach, which will be raised six to eight feet on average.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th) said the restorative project had previously been approved but there was never funding available. He said he was in Manasquan right after Hurricane Sandy hit the area and it has come a long way.
“When we walked along this frontal area to the beach, the smell of gas … was overwhelming. There were gas leaks. Most of the first floors were just filled with sand and what a difference a year makes,” Smith said. “The reparative efforts that have been made over the course of the last year have been monumental and transformational. People are back.”
Smith praised the mayor, council and emergency management team for assisting residents after the storm, despite their own home damage.
“It is really a testament to leadership and the resilience of the people,” Smith said.
Smith said he and others from the New Jersey delegation lobbied aggressively after Hurricane Sandy for the project.
Manasquan Mayor George Dempsey thanked Smith for his efforts in getting the project to fruition and said that it will help protect the houses that are adjacent to the beach.
“I hate to say he [Smith] did a good job, but he was one of the first ones that came down after the storm, he and Assemblyman Rible,” Dempsey said. “He went right to work on getting us funds.”
Before the congressman’s efforts, Dempsey said, the project was originally only going to restore the beach to the pre-Sandy condition.
“It’s a big step for Manasquan to get this replenishment,” Dempsey said. “I can’t thank the congressman enough, he did a tremendous job for us.”
Dempsey said the next step will be getting dunes in place, however, that is not part of the current project.
Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 feet of beach will be closed at a time while it is being replenished for safety reasons. Once those areas are completed and the contractor moves down the beach, the newly replenished areas will be reopened.
The project is a 24-hours a day, seven days a week operation and is expected to be completed in April or May.
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