The state Department of Environmental Protection has awarded an $18.4 million contract for beach and dune replenishment for southern Long Beach Island, replacing sand eroded since a $128 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach fill project last year.
The new project will use material dredged from Little Egg Inlet, improving boating safety there, DEP said.
The plan was met with criticism by the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.
“With over-development and sea level rise, we question whether these dunes will even last,” said NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. “Rebuilding dunes and beach replenishment will help in the short term, but is not a long-term approach to dealing with climate change.”
The inlet is a major thoroughfare for boat traffic between southern LBI and Brigantine that has experienced serious shoaling, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.
“This important project will provide additional protections to the southern LBI area … (and) greatly improve boating safety in the heavily used Little Egg Inlet, which has become virtually impassable for most boating traffic due to shoaling,” Martin said.
The dredging will clear a navigable boat channel a mile long and 24 feet below mean sea level, DEP said.
The contract was awarded to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Oak Brook, Illinois. It will dredge 700,000 cubic yards of sand, with an option to dredge an additional 300,000 cubic yards if needed. The DEP is using funds from its Shore Protection Program.
The sand will be placed along beaches and on dunes from Ocean Street in Beach Haven south through Long Beach Township. They have eroded heavily due to storms in the past year.
The goal is to complete the project by March 1, 2018, DEP said.
In March of this year, the Coast Guard pulled buoys marking the channel due to concerns buildup of sand in the channel had become too severe for safe passage of boats. The Coast Guard warned boaters use of the inlet would be at their own risk, according to DEP.
The DEP said it has designed the project to have little to no impact on the nearby Holgate section of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge or migrations of fish.