Weeks Marine Undertakes Major Beach Nourishment Projects on Jersey Shore; Superstorm Sandy Recovery Projects Nearing Completion
Aerial View of Project Area in New Jersey
Work has been ramping up the past few months on several New Jersey beach nourishment projects designed to replace san1d lost from erosion and rebuild dunes damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Projects in Ocean County and Atlantic County moved forward when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District awarded two contracts to Weeks Marine of Cranford, New Jersey. Weeks began work in Northern Ocean County at Ortley Beach and at Absecon Island in Atlantic County in May.
In October 2016, Weeks was awarded a $63.3 million contract (with options up to $76.1 million for additional sand) to complete the initial construction of the Abescon Island Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project in Atlantic County.
In January 2017, Weeks Marine was awarded a $92 million contract to restore beaches and dunes in Northern Ocean County. The contract could increase to as high as $128.8 million if options are awarded, and that is pending factors including the state of New Jersey securing the necessary real estate easements for various oceanfront tracts.
The projects will restore and protect the beaches severely damaged by waves, a storm surge and flooding when Sandy struck in October 2012. Weeks will work in 1,000-foot sections of beach at a time to minimize the impact to resident and visitors. Following are the project phases and timelines.
OCEAN COUNTY -- EARLY SUMMER 2017
Northern Ocean County was hardest hit by Sandy, and that’s partly why this is the larger of the two contracts. Using multiple hopper dredges and a cutter suction dredge, Weeks Marine will pump 11 million cubic yards of sand over eight beaches making up 14 miles of coastline on the Barnegat Peninsula, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Dunes will be built 22 feet above mean sea level and beaches will be constructed from 100 to 300 feet wide at eight-and-a-half feet above mean sea level.
Weeks Marine began work at Ortley Beach in May, and finished in mid-June. Using two hopper dredges, the 297-foot B.E. Lindholm and the 284-foot R.N. Weeks, the contractor placed 267,000 cubic yards of sand to create an approximate 125-foot-wide beach.
Ortley Beach was a priority, said Chuck Broussard, the company’s Dredging Division vice president, because it recently sustained damages from a “nor’easter” storm on top of the damage already incurred when Sandy struck. See the map on this page. Ortley Beach is located north of Seaside Heights and south of Normandy Beach.
After wrapping up the Ortley project, Weeks shifted its operations south to Abescon Island in Atlantic County, where it will work for several months before returning in late summer to resume Ocean County operations at Mantoloking.
ATLANTIC COUNTY -- SUMMER/FALL 2017
The Abescon Island project involves 8.1 miles of shoreline in Atlantic City, Longport, Margate and Ventnor. All told, Weeks expects to dredge more than 3.8 million cubic yards of sand from approved offshore areas and pump it through pipes to the beaches. Plans call for a 200-foot-wide beach and a dune built to a 15-foot elevation for Atlantic City. Along the Abescon Inlet, a 3/10 mile long seawall and bulkhead will be constructed. At Longport, Margate and Ventnor, the beaches will be built to a 100-foot width, and dunes built up to nearly 13 feet above mean sea level.
Weeks Marine began working on Atlantic City in May, using two cutter suction dredges: the 282-foot R.S. Weeks and the 230-foot C.R. McCaskill. The work is projected to wrap up by late July. The timeline for work at other Abescon beaches may overlap with each other, as well as with Ocean County work:
• Ventnor: Mid-August to early September;
• Margate: Late August to early October;
• Longport: Early October to mid-December.
All three of these projects will involve use of two suction hopper dredges, which are used when sand bars are far from shore: the 284- foot R.N. Weeks, and the 297-foot B.E. Lindholm. In addition, the Atlantic County contract calls for construction of dune crossovers, placement of sand fencing, dune grass plantings and the repair or extension of existing storm water outfalls and drainage structures, according to Corps.
“I’m proud of the efforts of the team that has worked so hard to move this project forward,” said Corps Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Michael Bliss. “When complete, the engineered dune and berm will be one system with the purpose of reducing damages to the infrastructure on the island.”
OCEAN COUNTY -- LATE SUMMER INTO 2018
The work schedule for Ocean County -- subject to change due to weather, mechanical issues and awarding of contract options -- is as follows:
• Mantoloking: Mid-September to late November;
• Seaside Heights: Early December to mid- January 2018;
• Ortley Beach (aka Toms River South): Mid-December to mid-February 2018;
• Seaside Park: Mid-January to early March 2018;
• Brick: Mid-February to mid-May 2018;
• Normandy Beach (Toms River): Early January to late March 2018;
• Lavallette: Mid May to early June 2018.
Weeks plans to use the cutter suction dredge R.S. Weeks for Mantoloking and Seaside Heights. The B.E. Lindholm will be used at Ortley Beach late in the fall, along with the R.N. Weeks. Seaside Park work, wrapping up in late winter, will involve the R.S. Weeks, the final portion of the New Jersey project for this vessel. The R.N. Weeks and B.E. Lindholm will complete the final three beaches -- Brick, Normandy Beach and Lavallette.
Funding for the Ocean County projects comes from the 2013 Federal Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which covers 65 percent of the cost, and the state of New Jersey, which will pay the remaining 35 percent.
In Atlantic County, engineering the beaches and dunes of Margate and Longport to Corps standards will be completely paid by the federal government through the 2013 relief package. The Atlantic City and Ventnor portion of the contract is cost-shared, with the federal government paying 65 percent of the project and the DEP paying 35 percent. Following the completion of initial construction, the project is eligible for periodic nourishment for up to 50 years.