OCEAN CITY – With very little fanfare, the major component of the latest phase of the Ocean City beach replenishment project wrapped up quietly last week on budget and ahead of schedule, apart from ongoing work on crossovers and fencing.
The roughly $10 million beach replenishment project was scheduled for this year as part of the normal four-year cycle but was expedited somewhat because of the devastation caused by a severe northeast storm last November. It began early this fall after the summer season and was scheduled for a tentative Dec. 23 completion date, but a variety of factors conspired to bring the project in early at the end of last week.
“They finished up last week slightly ahead of schedule,” said Ocean City Engineer Terry McGean this week. “They wound up pumping much more sand on the north end where he had the most damage, but as they moved south, they really picked up momentum.”
During last year’s powerful storm, the dune system worked as designed in that it protected shoreline properties, but it was left in shambles. When federal, state and local officials inspected the beaches, they determined an estimated $10 million would be needed to restore the damaged dunes, which had lost nearly half of a million cubic yards of sand from the Boardwalk’s end at 27th Street to the Delaware line.
In September, the project began in earnest with a network of heavy pipes, trucks, tractors and other equipment pumping and moving sand on the north end, which had sustained the most damage in the storm last year. As the contractors moved south to less damaged areas, the project accelerated to the finish line late last week.
“It was a lot of hard work, but they really got rolling toward the end,” said McGean. “With the exception of some continued work on the crossovers and fencing, the project is complete and the beach has been completely restored.”
McGean said the crossovers at the street ends were part of the larger Army Corps of Engineers contract, while the mid-block crossovers, most of the fence repairs and the dune plantings were included in smaller federal and state contracts.
The emergency dune repair is just part of the larger ongoing Ocean City beach replenishment project, which has a 50-year commitment from when it began in 1994 to 2044. The beaches of Ocean City are replenished roughly every four years with sand pumped from identified shoals off the coast of the resort.