By John Burton
MONMOUTH BEACH – The beaches along the Monmouth County coast are going to get a considerable amount of help with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ replenishment project, slated to begin this summer.
U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) joined Mayor Susan Howard and Sea Bright Borough Councilman William J. Keeler during a brief news conference Friday, May 3, to offer details for the planned $102 million federal project.
Super Storm Sandy flattened beaches along the shore by as much as 5 to 10 feet and caused some of those locations, which were in need of work, to even further deteriorate, Pallone said.
The replenishment project will be done in four contracts; the first will cover the Monmouth Beach-Sea Bright portion, said Jennifer Thalhauser, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a telephone interview.
That first contract will be awarded by mid-June with work beginning mid-July.
The four contracts – three scheduled to be done concurrently – will cover 21 miles of beachfront from Manasquan to Sea Bright, excluding Deal. The project is estimated to take about 215 days and will be paid for entirely by federal money, Thalhauser said.
The beaches will get an additional 5 million cubic yards or more of sand, according to Thalhauser.
The project will obviously coincide with the summer beach-going season, but Pallone and Thalhauser said it was important to move quickly to restore the beaches to protect them and the area’s infrastructure from future storms. Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through November.
“The sooner we get it done, the better,” Pallone said.
To accommodate beachgoers, Pallone said work will be done on closed 1,000-foot stretches of beach at a time.
The purpose of the replenishment project is not to make sure there are nice beaches for vacationers, the congressman stressed. “It’s really to protect the infrastructure” with extended beach areas serving as storm breaks.
During the 1992 nor’easter that caused severe flooding and damage in the area, ocean water came over the seawall and compromised Ocean Avenue/Highway 36. Last October, even with the devastation of Sandy, that didn’t happen.
“The beach saved our town,” Monmouth Beach mayor Susan Howard said, explaining the flooding the community experienced was from the Shrewsbury River side.
“As bad as it was for Sea Bright,” Councilman Keeler said, “if we did not have that sand [from previous replenishment projects] much of Sea Bright would be gone.”
The projects actually save money in the long run and are approved by a rather strict cost benefit analysis done by the Army Corps of Engineers, Pallone said.
The corps had done a replenishment project for much of Monmouth Beach’s 1.5 miles of beach in 2011. In November 2012, the corps completed the length of borough beach and continued on through the entirety of Sea Bright in a project approved prior to Sandy.
The new project is intended to repair the damage caused by Sandy and restore the oceanfront erosion control project to its original template, designed by the corps in the 1990s, Thalhauser said.
The federal money has been allocated from the Sandy Aid package approved by Congress earlier this year, championed by Pallone and New Jersey and New York federal lawmakers and governors.