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Great Lakes Building Dunes to Protect Long Beach Island

Map Courtesy of Army Corps of Engineers

Great Lakes Dock & Dredge began pumping sand for sand dunes on Long Beach Island in May. The $128 million storm reduction project is projected to run for 480 days until April 12, 2016.

Steve Rochette, public affairs officer for the Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District, said Great Lakes is using two hopper dredges, the Dodge Island and Padre Island, to pull the sand from a site three miles offshore of Harvey Cedars for dune and berm projects. The dredges offload the sand to a buoy and from there it is pumped onto the beach in sufficient volume to build the beach hill design. That design specifies the width and height of the dune and the height and length of the berm, which is the flat space between the dune and the water line.

A third hopper dredge, Liberty Island, is scheduled to join the effort later this year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District and its contractor Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company are pumping approximately eight million cubic yards of sand onto Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The dredge Dodge Island can be seen in the distance, while work on the beach locates sand for the dune and berm system.

Great Lakes is building dunes 22 feet high, with a 300-foot wide berm, to absorb energy from ocean storms. The sacrificial dunes take the damage, but are less expensive to rebuild after a storm than damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure.

The Corps began building the beachfill project with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at Surf City in 2006. A section was added at Harvey Cedars in 2010, and another at Brant Beach in Long Beach Township in 2012.

The Corps had to repair the Surf City and Harvey Cedars dunes in 2012 after Hurricane Irene, and all three beach areas in 2013 after Hurricane Sandy. The areas protected by those dunes, however, “experienced far less damage from Sandy than other areas,” Rochette said.

Great Lakes is adding four more sections to the storm damage reduction project with the construction of dunes at Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom, Beach Haven and another section at Surf City. The company is making progress of between 100 and 300 linear feet a day, depending on the condition of the underlying beach area.

The pipeline and buoys move, as the project progresses along the beach. As of September 1, Great Lakes had placed 4.7 million of the estimated eight million cubic feet of sand that will be used in the project.

“It took so long to get to the point of building the rest of the project because of environmental  approvals, re-evaluations of the 1999 feasibility report, and the time it took for the state to get the real estate in place,” Rochette said.

Once Great Lakes has placed the sand, it will build crossovers for beach access, erect sand fencing and plant dune grass. The installation of plantings and fencing is scheduled for the winter months.

“These projects require periodic nourishment,” Rochette said. The storm-damage reduction dunes on Long Beach Island are scheduled to have sand replenished every seven years, if funding is available.

Reconstruction after Hurricanes Sandy and Irene was funded by the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Program. The new construction is funded through the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act.

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