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Officials Fear Dredging Company Will Not Finish LBI Beach And Dune Project On Time
State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin sharply criticized a U.S. Army Corps of Engineersâ€™ contractor for plans to remove dredging equipment from an ongoing beach and dune construction project on Long Beach Island to perform a dredging project in another part the country.
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. started work in May to replenish beaches and engineer dunes along 13 miles of Long Beach Island in Ship Bottom, a portion of Surf City, Long Beach Township and Beach Haven. The $128 million contract includes an obligation to have it completed by Memorial Day.
Just before Christmas, the company announced it was moving the dredges out of New Jersey to work on another project. The company does not plan to return the dredges to New Jersey until spring 2016.
â€śThis planned action by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company is unwarranted and irresponsible,â€ť said Martin. â€śBy suspending its Long Beach Island work, this company will expose lives, homes, businesses and infrastructure to severe winter storms. Their decision shows a callous disregard for the people of New Jersey.
â€śI am calling on the Army Corps to step up to the plate and take strong action to ensure that all equipment remains on-site, and that this work moves forward as quickly as possible to protect the barrier island.â€ť
Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) said he shared in the disappointment at Great Lakeâ€™s decision to leave LBIâ€™s â€ścritical beach replenishment project half-completed, subject to the winter weather and storm surges common this time of year.â€ť
â€śIn close communication and coordination with Commissioner Martin, local mayors and the Army Corps, I have made clear on several occasions to Great Lakesâ€™ leadership of my immense frustration at this self-serving business decision that leaves the residents and properties of LBI at risk. I will continue to press the importance of finishing this project as planned, ensuring adequate winter storm protection and ample time to plan for the summer tourism season.â€ť
Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph H. Mancini wrote in an email that he feared Holgate, along the southern portion of the Island, will be particularly vulnerable to winter norâ€™easters.
â€śOur public works crews have pushed up as much sand as possible and right now at high tide, the ocean is right at the toe of the dunes,â€ť said Mancini. â€śFor Great Lakes to leave without replenishing this section of beach is frightening. We feel there is no excuse for them to pick up and leave in the middle of the project.â€ť
The federally-funded project is being undertaken as part of the Christie administrationâ€™s plan to build up the coastal barrier islands to protect them from the kind of destruction the state witnessed during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. It is one of seven significant beach improvement projects statewide authorized by Congress but never completed before Sandy hit.
The project that began on Long Beach Island this past May involves construction of a dune system with a top elevation of 22 feet. The beach and dune system being constructed will range from 300 to 400 feet wide and have an elevation of 8 feet above sea level, better protecting the Island against storm surges.
Three main areas still need to be filled: Area 6, which encompasses Beach Haven and the Holgate section of Long Beach Township; Area 1, which encompasses the Loveladies section of Long Beach Township; and Area 2, which encompasses the North Beach section of Long Beach Township.
The state has title for all of the properties in Area 6, which is the southern end of the project and the most vulnerable to severe damage from winter storms. Only a handful of easements are still required for Areas 1 and 2.
â€śThere is no reason whatsoever that the beach and dune construction work cannot continue at the southern end of the island,â€ť said Martin. â€śFurthermore, work can and must continue while the state wraps up its legal action to secure the outstanding easements needed in the northern part of Long Beach Island.â€ť
Article courtesy ofâ€” Pat Johnson
Photo courtesy of Jack Reynolds
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