Monday, February 6, 2017

8 cool things you should know about NJ beach rebuilding

Daniel Nee of Brick Shorebeat provide information about the upcoming beach replenishment program in NJ:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project is expected to begin within the next two months. It will change our local beaches forever, with vegetated dunes and engineered beaches that will be better protected during storms.

But what about the details? Before the $90 million project begins, we thought we’d fill you in on a few facts, courtesy of the Corps itself.

1. The project will send millions of cubic yards of sand through pipes, miles out in the ocean, right onto your street’s beach! The project, once fully completed, will cover approximately 14 miles of coastline along the Barnegat Peninsula in the communities of Point Pleasant Beach, Bay Head, Mantoloking, Brick Township, Toms River Township, Lavallette, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, and Berkeley Township.

More than 11 million cubic yards of sand will be dredged from approved borrow areas and pumped through a series of pipes onto the beaches of the municipalities. Last summer, we took a tour of one of the dredge boats working the Long Beach Island project to get an up-close view as to how things work.

The dredge boat Liberty Island, off Long Beach Island, NJ. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

2. Where is the sand coming from? Will it match the color and grain size of the existing sand? The sand will be coming from several offshore “borrow areas.” The identified borrow areas are chosen for their compatibility of the sand with the existing sand on the beaches. The Army Corps goes through an extensive process (they also work with the state Department if Environmental Protection) to find these sites and gain the environmental approvals to use them.

The process includes physical sampling as the Corps seeks to closely match the grain size to the “native” sand on the beach. Sometimes, the sand pumped onto the beach may initially appear to be a darker color as it has been buried unexposed to sunlight. Once exposed to the elements, this disappears quickly and the material will match the existing sand. In a previous project on Long Beach Island, the sand began to appear white (like the sand that was there before it) after about a week or so. 

3. Yes, the sand is designed to erode after construction. Because the Corps cannot reliably place material under water in the surf zone, officials know that the profile will undergo an initial adjustment to reach the natural equilibrium profile of the beach.

“We expect Mother Nature to erode some of the berm in the first year, which is why we build a post-construction template much wider than the designed template,” the Corps states in a fact sheet on the project. In addition, the project includes scheduled regular “periodic nourishment” every 4 years to add more sand into the system to maintain the design profile over the life of the project.

4. Dune crossovers will replace cut-throughs to access the beach. The Corps’ contract includes the construction of “dune crossovers,” which are built over top of the dune as opposed to “through the dune.” This way, the entire coastline is protected and there is no place where water can funnel its way through during a storm. These are typically built in the same locations as existing access points.

Additionally, the Corps is building ADA-accessible dune crossovers and vehicular dune crossovers in certain locations based on coordination with the non-federal sponsor (NJDEP) and the local municipalities. The pedestrian crossovers are topped with a hard-pack clay-like material, which is easier to walk on. The crossovers include fencing to assist with keeping people from walking on the dunes, which damages the stabilizing dune grass.

A dune crossover on a vehicle access beach in Surf City, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

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