Recently completed work in some Cape May County towns and fewer and less damaging nor’easters left local beaches in good shape heading into Memorial Day weekend.
“The good news is that there’s relatively little bad news,” said Jon Miller, a coastal expert with Stevens Institute of Technology. “We had another extremely mild winter in terms of storm activity, which when combined with the beach nourishment activity since Sandy have left most beaches in relatively good shape.”
Wildwood Crest completed a recent beach fill project to elevate sand levels. Avalon also completed a beach replenishment project.
Recently widened beaches in Brigantine and Margate have held on to much of their sand from recent beach fill projects.
The replenishment projects pump sand ashore to widen beaches to provide space for recreation and help protect property.
Coastal experts say most beaches in the region are in good shape as a result of years of replenishment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that kicked into high gear after Hurricane Sandy devastated the coast in 2012.
The $228,000 project in Wildwood Crest began April 23. The work involved moving 36,000 cubic yards of sand from the high-tide line to the back areas of the beach from the southern border at Jefferson Avenue through Rambler Road.
“In the winter, the winds that blow from the west create a gully. It then creates ponding there,” Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera said.
Cabrera said these issues developed over time. Not only was this aesthetically unpleasing, but the ponding of water caused issues.
The work was completed in early May.
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“We’re putting out the walkways, wooden platforms and the permitted smoking areas,” Cabrera said.
The project was paid for by the town, since the Army Corps of Engineers was not ready to use funds for the project yet.
“Part of this grading that we did was part of the (Army Corps) 2021 project. ... Between 2021 to 2023, we’d like to be paid. They’re open-minded and willing to cooperate with Wildwood Crest,” Cabrera said.
Still, it was an approved project.
“The project has been approved by both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection,” Brian Cunniff, the borough’s public information officer, said in a statement.
The borough contracted with Arthur R. Henry, Inc. of Egg Harbor Township for the project.
In Avalon, beach replenishment was due to a combination of minor nor’easters and natural erosion.
“Sixty-five thousand cubic yards of sand were moved over about a month and a half to the north end of the island,” Avalon Mayor Marty Pagliughi said.
Pagliughi said that the borough is paying for the replenishment. However, Avalon saved money by utilizing the public works crews.
This project will be enough to “get by” through the summer, he said. A bigger replenishment will come after the summer.
“A bid for proposals will be going out in June or July and work will be done in the winter as a hydrologic fill,” Pagliughi said.
The hydrologic fill involves pumping sand from the ocean onto the beach and is done by the federal government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.