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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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North Wildwood Beach Fill Project Detailed; City Pledges Up to $7M for Work

Michael Heenan
Looking south from above Hereford Inlet is North Wildwood’s beachfront. A project to replenish its beaches with sand from Hereford Inlet will begin the first week of June.

By Shay Roddy

NORTH WILDWOOD – A project to pump sand onto the city’s beaches, which have been devastated in recent years by erosion, is getting underway, with dredging beginning in the first week of June, the state Department of Transportation told the Herald. 

North Wildwood plans to contribute up to $7 million toward the project, bringing the total budget to a possible $17 million, a bond ordinance introduced May 7 revealed. The state has committed $10 million toward the endeavor.

“That’s the amount of money that we are making available to put into the project,” Mayor Patrick Rosenello said in an interview earlier this month. “Until they run some more engineering, we don’t know the exact amount.”

It is expected that the city’s $7 million bond ordinance will be adopted after a public hearing at the June 5 City Council meeting.

While the anticipated completion date is July 4, there is no hard deadline, according to Steve Schapiro, the DOT’s press manager.

“There is no limitation on time per se; if additional funding becomes available, we are prepared to do additional work,” Schapiro wrote in an email to the Herald.

Rosenello seemed to contradict that in a separate interview, calling July 4 “a bit of a firm deadline” and adding that “time and money” are the two determining factors in the area the project will cover.

A notice distributed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mapped an area from the inlet side of the jetty at 2nd Avenue and John F. Kennedy Beach Boulevard to the town’s southern border at 26th Avenue, but Rosenello said to fill all of that area would be unrealistic.

He called the Army Corps notice a “very broad document that gives us plenty of flexibility to deal with any contingencies that may arise” and added, “Ideally we would at least get past the lifeguard building and the break in the dunes at 13th Street. Ideally, the minimum for me would be between 16th and 17th.”

According to Schapiro, current estimates call for approximately 330,000 cubic yards of sand to be pumped onto the city’s beaches. Rosenello said the city’s $7 million “will extend that amount of sand,” though he said it is still unclear by how much.

The dredging company intends to pump sand onto the beach at 7th Avenue, proceeding south to north and wrapping around the jetty at 2nd and JFK, according to an update issued May 20 by the city. Once this section is complete, it is expected that the contractor will return to 7th Avenue, continuing south, the update added.

“This is an extraordinary project being undertaken by the DOT in an extraordinarily short amount of time, and they are absolutely moving mountains and coordinating an incredible amount of moving parts to get this thing moving,” the mayor said. “There’s just so many moving pieces to this, and that’s why there’s conflicting information.”

North Wildwood has consistently credited Gov. Phil Murphy for intervening and expediting the emergency project. During a years-long standoff with the state Department of Environmental Protection over the state of the North Wildwood beaches, Rosenello had criticized Murphy for failing to help.

Murphy was “happy to come here last year and march in our July 4th parade to get a photo op. But when it comes to actually doing the job of governor, he’s AWOL,” Rosenello said last year.

However, since the governor intervened, Rosenello has praised him and extended him an invitation to this year’s July 4 parade, one they hope to hold as the project wraps up.

“I hope he comes down,” the mayor said. “He is invited whenever he wants. It has been an incredible breath of fresh air in the last couple of weeks dealing with his office.”

Other Quick Facts

The contractor and subcontractor are H&L Contracting and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, according to the DOT.

During the duration of the project, the 15th Avenue municipal beach parking lot and LSV parking area at 15th Avenue will be closed to the public, according to the city. Other traffic areas and parking may also be closed to the public from time to time, the city announced.

The DOT and the contractors plan to place some trailers and other equipment in multiple locations off the beach at 6th-7th avenues on the landward side of the bulkhead, between the bulkhead and playground equipment; at the municipal parking lot at 15th Avenue and the beach; and between 16th and 17th avenues on the landward side of the dune, between the vehicle access and the dune, according to the city.

The contractors are planning to work in approximately 1,000-foot increments along the beach, according to the city. Sections of beach will be closed while work is performed, but the DOT intends to work with the contractor to open sections of beach to provide the public with access as soon as is safely feasible, the city announced.

Even if a section of the beach does not appear to be under construction, there may still be dredge pipes lying across the beach, according to the city. Beachgoers may have access over the pipes, if they are not within the ongoing construction zone, and access ramps made of sand and other material will allow pedestrians to get to and from the ocean side, the city announced.

Safety is a top priority, the DOT stated. The agency advised the public to stay away from all construction equipment, pipelines and caution zones. 

Contact the reporter, Shay Roddy, at sroddy@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 142.

Reporter

Shay Roddy is a Delaware County, Pennsylvania native who has always spent as much of his summers as he could at the Jersey Shore. He went to Friends’ Central and is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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